7-Eleven convenience stores in Florida and Southern California will soon join more than two dozen Dallas-area retailers in the company’s test marketing of single bananas from Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Miami.

A 60-day test of the bananas concluded early this month, said Margaret Chabris,  director of corporate communications for 7-Eleven.

“The initial test was in just 27 stores near our office, so our management team could keep an eye on how they were doing,” she said.

The next phase will include 120 stores in Florida, she said, and a to-be-determined number of stores in Southern California. An upcoming meeting between 7-Eleven and Del Monte executives will target the California stores participating in the test marketing and decide when the next phase of the test will begin, she said.

Chabris declined to reveal figures on the Dallas area-testing, but said the effort has gone well.

“We can say that we were pleased with the results and want to validate those results by expanding to other areas,” Chabris said.

The bananas are delivered in a plastic film developed by Del Monte. The film, dubbed by Del Monte controlled ripening technology packaging, reduces bruising, controls ripening and extends shelf life up to five days, said Dennis Christou, Del Monte vice president of marketing, when the Dallas area testing began.

The single bananas “give significant advantages to the convenience store operators by ensuring that they have an optimal quality product that lasts longer and reduces their overall costs,” he said at that time.

The plastic film is recyclable. Its use also reduces delivery truck miles.

“Because the bananas last longer on our counters, they don’t have to be delivered as often, and that cuts down on deliveries,” Chablis said.

If the results of the testing are positive, the company plans to launch the program on a region-by-region basis in the U.S. at all of the nearly 5,800 7-Eleven stores before the end of 2010, Chablis said. The convenience store chain expects to sell more than 27 million bananas this year, according to company projections, up from 19 million bananas in 2007.

Should single banana sales go nationwide at 7-Eleven stores, Del Monte will ship cartons of the wrapped fruit to ports in Camden, N.J., Tampa, Fla., and Southern California in addition to Galveston, Texas, Chablis said. 

The Del Monte Natural Energy Snack on the Go bananas are available in a 40-pound bulk box, a 40-pound quad-pack and a 10-pound display-ready box. A stand-up counter display is also available from Del Monte.

7-Eleven expands Del Monte banana program