Kwik Trip is Making Healthy Choices Convenient

When Ryan Zietlow interviews applicants to work at the Kwik Trip in La Crosse, WI he’s noticed that what catches their attention most is an inexpensive little perk the company started offering two years ago: a free piece of fruit during every shift.

“I always go for the apple,” said Zietlow, an assistant store leader. The honey-flavored ambrosia apples are also a favorite with customers.

In fact, since the company partnered with PHA in 2014 and committed to increasing its healthier food offerings, customers have been eating them up, said Store Leader Terry Johnson. “I sell tons of hard-boiled eggs. People also enjoy the salads, the fruit bowls and the fruit trays,” he said, all featured in the store’s centrally located fresh case. “There’s quite a bit they can choose from.”

Fruit specials are also popular he said, especially when he sells apples and oranges for $3.99 a dozen. “You can’t get that at the grocery store.”

The expansion of healthier choices has been successful company-wide. One year after Kwik Trip promised to offer at least four different kinds of fruit and four different vegetables at its 500 convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, bulk produce sales rose 5.5 percent.

The stores have made other changes as well. They now use an EatSmart logo to designate healthy choices throughout the store, offer discounts to schools that buy Healthy Concessions (such as fruit cups, string cheese, carrot sticks and fruit parfaits) for their fundraisers and replaced donuts with fresh fruit at the register to encourage healthier, last-minute purchases.

One reason the fresh case is so popular, said Johnson, is that he makes sure everything in it stays fresh. It’s filled with fresh produce every day and what doesn’t sell is donated to the Feeding America food banks – a full day before it hits its expiration date.

Image of healthier products sold in a Kwik Trip convenience store. Johnson credits the bigger variety of healthy offerings with helping him lose 48 pounds during a recent company weight loss challenge. “Having that healthy food here has really helped me out,” he said. “If I get hungry I can grab a hard-boiled egg or a salad. Otherwise, I’d be snacking on the burgers.”

Parents also appreciate the ample supply of fruit, he said. The store offers a free birthday treat to children, who are able to choose from a donut, a cookie, a bagel or a piece of fruit. “A lot of them are choosing the fruit now,” he said, “and a lot of parents are encouraging them to do so.”

The partnership with PHA ties into the company’s overall health-promoting campaign, by including a commitment to install bike racks at all new stores. Zietlow said every store he’s worked at has them and employees who live close by will either bike or walk to work.

“Making fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices available at prices accessible to everyone has been an ongoing commitment at Kwik Trip,” said Steve Loehr, Vice President of Support Operations. “And we hope very much that our example will encourage other businesses to join this very important initiative.”

Learn more about Kwik Trip’s healthy choices.

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