(Dec. 19) Companies selling value-added fruits and vegetables may sense a growing opportunity for their products in convenience stores, but Ready Pac Produce Inc., Irwindale, Calif., has received evidence affirming this.

More than 20,000 attendees at the National Association of Convenience Stores trade show Nov. 15-18 chose the company’s Bistro To Go bowl salads as their No. 1 pick for new products each day of the show.

Attendants at the Las Vegas show used hand-held scanners to make their favorite product selections.

Steve Dickstein, vice president of marketing for Ready Pac, said the company has sold $75 million of the bistro bowl salads since their introduction in 2004.

Though most of those sales are through retail outlets, the single-digit percentage sold through convenience stores is growing, he said.

“Now anyone with a refrigerator and a cash register is looking to sell you your next meal,” Dickstein said. “This speaks to the opportunity for produce companies to penetrate this channel that has been the domain for soft drinks.”

The bistro salad, which includes a protein portion, salad, dressing and a fork, comes in chicken Caesar, chef, cobb, Greek and spinach bacon varieties.

Ready Pac distributes these to convenience stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Dickstein said, adding that there’s opportunity for more growth in the convenience store market.

The company plans a launch of three additional varieties of the bistro salad in the first quarter of 2006, which will be accompanied by promotions, he added.

Bistro to Go salads collect C-store show kudos
Ready Pac's Spinach Bacon Bistro To Go salad