7-Eleven Embraces Nutritional Snacks

At a time of year when people are focused on health and fitness, 7-Eleven Inc. is adding three more sensible snacks for the "on-the-go" crowd–Weight Watchers snack cakes and muffins, LARABAR all-natural raw food bars and, in March, its own proprietary MEGA protein bars.

Approximately half of all Americans entered 2008 resolved to do something: exercise more, eat less, save more, spend less. As always, losing weight checks in at the top of millions of New Year’s resolution lists, not surprising because between 60 and 70% of Americans are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While women are at the low end of that spectrum (60%) and men at the higher end (70%), it is women who are more likely to make New Year’s resolutions and do something about it. However, men are beginning to pay more attention to nutrition and their health and buying products to support their "better eating" resolutions.

"We want to offer healthier choices that are appealing to both men and women," said Alan Beach, 7-Eleven’s vice president of merchandising. "A man might choose a protein bar, banana and G2, the new low-calorie Gatorade, while a woman might opt for a cup of cut up fruit, Kashi oatmeal and green tea. 7-Eleven stores even carry burritos made with all-organic ingredients."

Two flavors of the new Weight Watchers snack cakes, lemon and chocolate, will begin rolling out to 7-Eleven stores this month in individually wrapped twin packs of a single flavor. blueberry and double chocolate muffins are also available in single packages. These sweet snacks have no trans-fat, fewer calories and less fat per serving than traditional products in the snack food category. The suggested retail price for each item is $1.29.

"We think the Weight Watchers cakes will be popular with our male and female customers," said Tony Sparks, 7-Eleven category manager for bakery and bread.

LARABARS, also new to 7-Eleven, are raw food bars made with only unsweetened fruit, nuts and spices. Billed as "The Original Fruit & Nut Food Bar," each variety contains no more than six ingredients. Previously available at just natural food, specialty grocers and athletic stores, each unprocessed, uncooked bar has no added sugar, is gluten-, dairy- and soy-free, and certified kosher and vegan. Suggested retail price for the 1.8-ounce bar is $1.69.

The convenience retailer will introduce its own proprietary nutrition bar in March, the first all-natural, triple-layer protein bar. Protein bars are the No. 1 selling nutrition bars and especially popular with men. Sold under the "All Natural MEGA Protein Bar" brand name, the 7-Eleven bar contains 30-grams of protein, is 70 percent organic and will be available in two candy bar-like flavors: caramel chocolate peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie dough.

7-Eleven stores stock better-for-you selections year-round in its fresh foods, packaged foods and beverages for health-conscious consumers who are counting calories, fat grams and carbohydrates. Fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, lower-calorie sandwiches, portion-control snacks, energy and protein bars, dark chocolate candy, sugar-free Slurpee drinks, vitamin-enhanced waters, yogurt, meal-replacement and shakes – all healthier food options that can be found throughout the store. "While many people start diets as part of their new year’s resolutions, most people need to make long-term lifestyle changes instead of looking to short fixes," Beach said. "Balance is what it’s all about, and 7-Eleven offers healthier choices for those who want them."

7-Eleven is also promoting its other lines of healthy foods and beverages including:

* Hot, cold and frozen teas. While green tea may get more press for its healthful properties, medical studies show both green and black teas may reduce the risk of heart disease, some kinds of cancer, boost the immune system and help with weight loss. 7-Eleven now offers fresh-brewed black and green tea on its hot beverage bar. It also has introduced its first tea-based Slurpee, Mango Bango Totally Wild Tea flavor. Bottled teas have enjoyed double-digit growth at 7-Eleven as consumers look for healthier ready-to-drink beverage choices.

* Healthy Choice Entrees. In the frozen food case, customers can choose from two new Healthy Choice items: chicken margherita café steamers or chicken basil panini.

* Breakfast cereals. 7-Eleven has added Kashi apple cinnamon oatmeal, packaged in a ready-to-eat-from bowl. G2 Summit

* Ready-to-eat snacks. Consumers looking for healthier fresh foods at mealtime will find a wide selection on 7-Eleven shelves such as whole and cut-up fruits, vegetable snack trays with ranch dressing, salads, and fruit and cheese snacks. For those who want to drink their fruit, Naked 100% Juice fruit smoothies and V-8 vegetable and fruit juices offer other options to increase fruit and veggie intake.

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