Walgreen Co. added fruits, vegetables and other fresh products to 30 stores in the San Francisco area as the biggest U.S. drugstore chain expanded a pilot program aimed at selling more healthy and “on-the-go” foods to customers.
Fresh produce available at the San Francisco stores include apples, bananas, lettuce, onions, peppers, potatoes and watermelons, said Robert Elfinger, a spokesman for the Deerfield, Ill.-based company. Walgreens’ fresh food sections also include meats, prepared salads, sandwiches, wraps and soups, he said.
“Today’s consumers are looking for more healthy food alternatives,” Elfinger said in a May 17 e-mail. “Our San Francisco area customers are already buying a lot of food in our stores and there are requests for more product offerings. As we learn from this initial test, we believe there’s potential to expand this offering to more stores in the Bay area.”
San Francisco area Walgreens stores in the pilot program are expected to have fully-stocked fresh food sections by summer, Elfinger said. Walgreens has about 590 stores total in California.
Walgreens launched the pilot program in September, adding fresh produce and prepared meals in some Chicago and New York City area stores. “With our three fresh food pilot markets, we hope to give consumers more options and more reasons to visit our stores,” Elfinger said.
With 8,169 stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam, Walgreens offers a growing and potentially large buyer for fruit and vegetable growers. Walgreens joins other non-supermarket retailers, such as Target Corp. as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in ramping up fresh food offerings in recent years.
Walgreen had net sales of $67.4 billion in the company’s fiscal 2010, up 6.5% from 2009.