7-11

If you’re used to running into your local 7-Eleven for Big Gulp’s and Snickers bars, you may need to look elsewhere. The New York Times reports the chain has added fresh, healthier fare to its more than 8,000 U.S. locations.

“Over the last year, the retailer has introduced a line of fresh foods for the calorie conscious and trimmed down its more indulgent fare by creating portion-size items,” writes Stephanie Strom of the Times. And they’re aiming for 20 percent of overall sales to come from fresh and healthier food in both U.S. and Canadian locations by 2015, up from just 10 percent now. “We’re aspiring to be more of a food and beverage company, and that aligns with what the consumer now wants, which is more tasty, healthy, fresh food choices,” Joseph M. DePinto, the chief executive of 7-Eleven, a subsidiary of the Japanese company, Seven & i Holdings told the Times.

While national efforts are underway to build enthusiasm for avoiding fast food as cases of obesity and diabetes continue to rise, the real impetus for 7-Eleven’s foray into healthy food may actually originate in the decline of cigarette consumption: “a major profit driver for convenience stores — cigarettes — has been in steady decline over the last decade as the rate of smoking has dropped in the United States,” according to the Times. And as interest in healthier food options increases, the chain is ready to meet that market segment. New 7-Eleven menu items includes a “Bistro Snack Protein Pack” that includes fresh celery, carrots and grapes among its “under 400 calories” offerings. Other items, such as the not-so-healthy jelly doughnut, will be available in mini sizes to help consumers portion control.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: taberandrew