C-Stores as Farm Stands

Published in CSP Daily News

Local produce could be competitive difference, study says

AMES, Iowa -- Convenience stores could be an untapped opportunity for producers to market local products, according to the results of a recent survey of Iowa c-store operators. The study was for the Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) coordinated by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University in Ames.

The study area included 180 c-stores in a rural area (Guthrie and Audubon counties) and in an urban area (Polk and Dallas counties). The survey results, which represent 60% of the stores in the study area, showed that [image-nocss] respondents were interested in carrying more local foods.

Retailers cited in the study include Casey's General Stores, Ankeny; Handimart, Cedar Rapids; Kum & Go, West Des Moines; Kwik Shop, Hutchinson, Kansas; Kwik Trip, La Crosse, Wis.; and Quik Trip, Tulsa, Okla. In addition to these medium-to-large market players, other participants in this study included several smaller, independent operators with 10 or fewer store locations.

"Most operators cited the importance of supporting the local economy as their No. 1 reason, and fulfilling customer requests for more local foods as their second reason for being interested in stocking local foods," said Mary Holz-Claus, from ISU Extension's value added agriculture program and an author of the study's final report.

"Others felt a local foods presence could help differentiate the store from competitors, or result in a better quality, fresher product provided there was sufficient customer demand, she added.

Click here to view the report. www.valuechains.org/rfswg/convenience_rfswg02-05.pdf