7-Eleven Urged to Sell Green Bananas

Discussion
Oct 16, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The 7-Eleven
convenience store chain sells more than 27 million bananas a year and,
evidently, the company feels it could sell more if they didn’t go bad
so quickly.

To address
the ripening situation, 7-Eleven announced earlier this week that it
would be begin testing bananas wrapped in individual plastic packaging.
Fresh Del Monte created the packaging, which keeps oxygen and moisture
out, and promises to extend the period bananas stay good on the shelf
to five days.

The company’s
CEO Joseph DePinto summed up the reason for the test in an interview
with USA Today. “Our
customers want yellow bananas – not brown,” he said.

However, some are not impressed.

“More plastic
packaging is not a sustainable solution,” said Jenny Powers, a spokesperson
for the National Resources Defense Council. “There
are better ways than adding a plastic wrapper around something that comes
naturally wrapped in the first place.”

The convenience store chain anticipated some
push back and has asked Fresh Del Monte to come up
with packaging that uses biodegradable material. “We’re working at identifying
more sustainable packaging,” Dennis Christou, marketing vice president at Fresh
Del Monte, told USA Today.

If the test is successful, 7-Eleven will
roll out the banana packaging to its stores across the country.

Discussion
Questions: Should the chain go ahead with rollout
of the packaging even if a more environmentally-friendly option cannot
be found? What does this incident say about the need to take green issues
into consideration in produce packaging?

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12 Comments on "7-Eleven Urged to Sell Green Bananas"


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Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 6 months ago

More packaging? Aren’t retailers trying to save money and the planet by reducing packaging? Aren’t customers sensitive to the environment now? Not sure how this would play out for 7-Eleven but I am still impressed that they sold 27 million bananas last year.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Basic fruits are a huge hit at the convenience store as consumers continue to look for better options on the go. Regardless of the packaging at this point, 7-Eleven absolutely should go ahead. If a better solution can be found then sure, go ahead and change it. For now, consumers are beginning to expect these options. Nevertheless, they do want them fresh. So, if this does it for them–do it.

Apples, oranges, and bananas are likely to find their way into most convenience stores if they aren’t there already. Offering these basics is going to be a necessity in this market. High quality and high margin also make them a great item for the retailer.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

7-Eleven should scrap the idea of individually wrapping bananas and find an alternative solution. That solution could be as simple as having the store manager buy bananas from a grocer on the way to the store, or more careful ordering so bananas are not sitting around until they become brown. Creating more waste is not the answer.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

C’mon! Can consumers really get up in arms about plastic wrapping on a banana when piles of 7-Eleven Styrofoam containers and giant plastic cups are being discarded (not recycled)? Plenty of people are peevish about others touching their food (yes, even when the natural “wrapping”–the peel–will come off. I’ve got the focus group reports to prove it!) I say bring on the wrapping and do something about the existing packaging problem first.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

My gut instinct is “no,” but then on second thought, every C-store I visit always has muffins and pastries all wrapped (extensively) in plastic. Nobody seems to get too excited about that. The fact that this is new, additional packaging, however, gives me pause. So my answer is still “no,” but living in the glass house that I do, I’m not going to throw any stones.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
11 years 6 months ago

Nothing says we sell ‘fresh’ produce like selling bananas individually wrapped in plastic. NOT!

This is a bad move for c-stores trying to show they have fresh foods. It says “we can’t handle getting fresh bananas to you so we’ll wrap them in plastic in case they sit around too long.”

The next issue 7-Eleven should tackle is getting rid of all those environmentally unfriendly drink cups.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I’m totally with Al on this one. What a contradiction in terms, what an admission that they are not, in fact, selling fresh food because fresh food doesn’t sell so it needs to be packaged to help it keep longer. In spite of other comments, I do think more customers will object to this (and not buy them) than will just accept it. Watch out, too, for customers buying plastic-wrapped bananas then stripping them and leaving the packaging behind, either neatly on the counter or less neatly tossed on the floor. What an altogether BAD idea.

James Tenser
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

I’m not personally offended by a saran-wrapped piece of fruit in a C-store, but it does somewhat contradict the freshness message.

How about merchandising bananas and other fruits beneath clear plastic, flip-top covers that help extend their shelf life?

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Increasing the shelf life of the banana by wrapping it is a better solution than letting them rot and having to throw them out. As the article also points out, less fuel is used because of less frequent delivery.

A little improvement on mother nature’s wrapping is not all bad. Here we have a 100% increase in shelf life.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 6 months ago

Apparently David isn’t here today, so I’ll go ahead and say it: 7-Eleven should do what it thinks is best, and not listen to a bunch of opinionated NGOs. I’m not saying it should seek out the most eco-unfriendly choice available, I’m just saying it doesn’t need anyone’s approval…other than the customer, of course.

JoAnn Hines
Guest
JoAnn Hines
11 years 6 months ago

Bringing products to market fresh and sanitary is a complex equation. Every time I hear people who understand nothing about the role of product packaging go on an “excess packaging” rampage, it makes me mad. We have a huge food waste factor at retail; even with good packaging it’s still 13%-20%.

When food is thrown away because it’s spoiled or bad who do you think pays the price? Clue…it’s not the retailer or the packaging company, it’s you the consumer. 7-Eleven is making a good business decision by wrapping bananas to extend their shelf life and not just because they want to use more packaging. There are many other food products that could not even exist without this technology either. When “green” options become available I’m sure they will pursue them.

So if a package helps reduce food waste in addition to helping the retailer be more profitable, it’s saving money for you the consumer too in the big scheme of things!

Donna Absher
Guest
Donna Absher
11 years 6 months ago

NO PLASTIC! I agree with the thoughts: 1) Just buy them every few days from the grocery store – it spreads the wealth in your own community. 2) We should NOT be encouraging squeamish behavior – its like indulging a child. Also, I think 3) Plastic totally kills the marketing of FRESH fruit. Nobody buys bananas at the supermarket wrapped. Buying wrapped must mean buying old. 4)The economy, the environment, the dependence on oil, which unless they can succeed with biodegradable plastics, are all important to consumers with means and will become more important. Plastic will raise red flags with the folks who have money to spend. They will not return to shop another day.

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