OPINION: E15 retailer reports customer interest, satisfaction

By Cassie Mullen, director of market development, Renewable Fuels Association | November 02, 2022

Last month, we kicked off a conversation with  Joshua Jadlocki, senior petroleum scheduler at Sheetz, about what the retailer has experienced with its adoption of higher blends of ethanol, such as E15. Our discussion concludes today.

 

RFA: The whole country was talking about your incredible summer promotion. Can you share any of the takeaways with us? Did you see significant increases in sales? Any future plans for another promotion?

Sheetz: Our goal for the summer promotion was to relieve some financial stress at the pump over a busy traveling weekend. Being connected in the communities in which we operate is an important part of our Sheetz DNA and having the ability to offer a less expensive fuel alternative is important to us and our customers. Sheetz is always looking for ways to save our customers money at the pump.

 

RFA: The industry is still learning how to market E15 (also referred to as UNLEADED 88 by some), and one thought today is that offering a competitively priced fuel along with proper legal signage is one of the most effective methods. Does Sheetz have any insight to add to this?

Sheetz: When a value proposition is available to the customer, we have seen an increase in questions around UNLEADED 88, which is great! We want our customers to be curious about the higher blend products, and whether it is the correct choice for them.

 

RFA: Do you think consumers understand the environmental advantage that E15 has? If so, do you think it impacts their buying decision?

Sheetz: Consumers are starting to learn about the environmental advantages of UNLEADED 88. Making a switch to UNLEADED 88 is an individual choice, and by offering the product at a discount more people are curious about it, and therefore researching and learning more about it. Consumers are making educated decisions about the product they choose to fill up with more now than ever.

 

RFA: As you know, there are a couple of major government-supported infrastructure incentive programs coming out in the near future. How do programs like these shape decisions that Sheetz makes when it comes to higher blends expansion? 

Sheetz: Government backed programs will play a huge part in pushing the higher blends forward. Government-based infrastructure incentives are reinforcing our decision to offer UNLEADED 88 and higher blends. We strive to offer the products that our customers want, and the incentives are helping spread awareness.

 

RFA: As an industry, what could we do to make your commitment to E15 even stronger?

Sheetz: It is most important to spread awareness and educate the consumer around UNLEADED 88 and higher blend ethanol products and how those products can help the transition to a carbon neutral future. We all need to continue to push the government and EPA to grant the sale of UNLEADED 88 all year long instead of just during the winter months. Due to government waivers, this year, we were able to prove that UNLEADED 88 can be used during the summer months without issue and that consumers desire the higher blend alternatives at the pump all year long.

 

Sheetz is one of many retailers who are seeing success and market differentiation by offering higher blends of ethanol to  their customers, especially as gas prices remain high, and we plan to provide more retailer conversations in the future. If you’d like more information on moving to higher blends, along with information on grants, contact me at [email protected]