7-Eleven is testing out a new banana strategy at 27 Dallas-area locations, using a new plastic wrap developed by supplier Fresh Del Monte Produce to keep single bananas yellow and firm for five days-more than double the two-day shelf life for an unwrapped banana, ABC News reported.
“Our customers want yellow bananas, not brown,” said CEO Joseph DePinto.
If the wrapped bananas are a success, 7-Eleven could roll out plastic-wrapped bananas to most of its 5,787 stores by early 2010.
Fresh Del Monte created the wrap, which slows respiration by keeping most oxygen and moisture out. The bananas are green when wrapped and ripen more slowly because of it, extending shelf life.
7-Eleven is focusing on fresh food sales as cigarette sales decrease. The chain will sell more than 27 million bananas this year, ABC News reported. Selling yellow bananas “is one small example of what we need to do to reinvent ourselves,” DePinto said.
The move would give the chain a competitive advantage, according to Dean Dirks, a consultant in the $623 billion convenience store industry. “That’s why just about everyone in business stays away from fresh fruit at the counter.”
But others criticize the move as unfriendly to the environment.
“More plastic packaging is not a sustainable solution” Jenny Powers, Natural Resources Defense Council spokeswoman told ABC News. “There are better ways than adding a plastic wrapper around something that comes naturally wrapped in the first place.”
To combat the sustainability issue 7-Eleven has asked supplier Fresh Del Monte to come up with a biodegradable wrapper. “We’re working at identifying more sustainable packaging,” said Dennis Christou, marketing vice president at Fresh Del Monte. He added extending the shelf life of bananas cuts the carbon footprint by reducing store deliveries.
Fresh Del Monte also is using the technology in new fruit vending machines in the Southeast. “Consumers tell us they’ll eat more fruit if it’s available.”