Pennsylvania retail chain adds more E15

By Matt Thompson | March 11, 2019

Retail chains that have decided to add E15 to their product mixes continue to see positive results. Stores like Rutter’s, a Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain, have added the fuel despite the uncertainty surrounding year-round sales.

Rutter’s announced last year that it would begin offering E15 at seven of its retail stores, and recently opened its 10th store offering the fuel. Chris Hartman, Rutter’s director of fuels, said the company is happy with the decision. “We’ve seen good results and we’re excited to continue to build locations that have these products,” he said.

Hartman said Rutter’s decided to add E15 after doing extensive research. “We saw the marketplace shifting towards alternative fuels and we’re a very progressive company,” he said. “We like to be at the forefront of the industry.”

He also said adding fuel was important for Rutter’s customers. “For us, it’s about convenience and if we’re not offering what our customers want, then we’re not convenient,” he said. “That’s the most important thing, is looking at what our customers are asking for, and saying, ‘Does it make sense? Is it a big enough group to make it worth it?’” In Rutter’s case, it was.

Hartman said customers appreciate having the fuel available and have offered positive feedback. “Primarily, customers are understanding of what goes into it,” he said. Rutter’s uses different colors for its E15 nozzles and separates it from their other fuels in an effort to help customers choose the correct fuel. “We try to make sure there is no confusion and that people are putting what they expect to be putting in,” Hartman said.

Avoiding that confusion is also why EPA’s rule to allow year-round E15 sales is important, Hartman said. “When you’re not providing something consistently, then consumers get confused and probably are less likely to educate themselves on it,” he said.

Rutter’s, which sells E15 as Unleaded 15, uses blender pumps, rather than pre-blended E15. Hartman said using the blenders allows for flexibility and doesn’t require a separate tank.

Hartman said adding E15 so far hasn’t had a negative impact on the company’s E10 sales. “We’ve been tracking it, and so far, I have not seen anything that says that it’s going to be a large cannibalization of our E10,” he said. He added that a fuel price increase could cause more customers to shift to E15.