16 Merchandising and Marketing Ideas
8. Finding a friend in a farmer
Many c-stores have sharpened their capacity for certain aspects of foodservice—think hot entrées and snacks. So why are fresh salads and fruits still such an uphill battle?
That’s a question Phil Jennings, proprietor of Soperton, Ga.-based Nature Crisp, aimed to solve earlier this year. The family-owned farm launched an initiative to supply several regional c-store chains with Nature Crisp-branded packaged salads and fruit cups. Merchandised from grab-and-go coolers, the items are delivered to stores daily.
So far, participating chains in the state include Savannah-based Parker’s, Jet Food Stores of Georgia Inc. in Sandersville and Glenville-based Clyde’s Market.
The secret of Nature Crisp’s successful landing in c-stores starts with the aura the product line exudes: a farmers-market freshness wrapped around the farm-to-table food movement so many consumers value.
“These chains had horror stories about doing anything fresh like this,” says Jennings. “They had bad experiences with larger suppliers who wouldn’t deliver consistently, and the shelf life was pretty suspect.”
Sensing opportunity, Jennings first approached Jet Foods in late January, and by April it was supplying eight of its stores. Nature Crisp now services more than 100 stores as the customer network blossoms.