Casey’s is a household name in the Midwest, always prepared with gas, pizza and friendly people at each of its 2,000 locations in 16 states. In 2019, Casey’s is striving to offer even more. Casey’s General Stores announced it would begin offering biodiesel in 600 stores with an additional 300 to follow throughout the year. Beyond the Bean sat down with Casey’s fuel director, Nathaniel Doddridge, to talk all things biodiesel and the decision for Casey’s to offer a product that significantly supports the price of soybeans.
Why was Casey’s not offering biodiesel until now?
We dabbled in biodiesel a little bit prior to me joining the team two years ago. In the beginning of biodiesel, we had some extremely vocal customers who were just averse to biodiesel. Back in the early 2000s, there was a lot of uncertainty in the customer’s mind. People had a lot of bad memories. It was a handful of customers who had bad experiences with biodiesel that really kept us from expanding, despite how economical it is for us.
What was the decision-making process to start providing biodiesel to your customers?
We didn’t feel like we were getting the return we deserved with traditional diesel. You look at the competitors in the markets, everyone was offering the product. And we were trying to compete at the same price, but we didn’t have the same advantage they did. That’s when we decided biodiesel was something we wanted to bring to the market for our locations. And after some conversations about biodiesel with the National Biodiesel Board and the United Soybean Board, among other organizations, I think that if we align our messages with these organizations to educate customers about the benefits of biodiesel, we’ll be successful.
Do you think you’ll expand your locations offering biodiesel even more?
Right now, we’re starting to cycle over where we implemented it last year. So, we’re at the point now where we can actually look back at what we did last summer and see that it was good. The customers accepted it, and it’s profitable. We have not seen a large portion of our customers resist biodiesel, which is good.
What does biodiesel offer to your customers that tradition diesel does not?
We do feel like there’s a quality product in biodiesel. You’ll notice the biodiesel industry has really increased the quality of its product. They are trying to differentiate themselves from the base diesel products. Then there’s the sustainability of biodiesel over petroleum. We also like giving back to the farmers who are growing the beans and selling the oil. We feel they’re benefitting because they produced it, and they’re getting to put it in their vehicles as a finished product.
What did receiving the Biodiesel Impact Award mean to you and Casey’s as a company?
I think it’s huge for us. I think it finally makes us more relevant in the space for renewable fuels. We’re super appreciative of that award, and we’re happy we finally made the step to offer biodiesel. It seems like it’s getting a lot of buy-in from our customers, from our employees, from our leadership team saying, hey, this has really added value to us.
Casey’s has truly done a 180 on biodiesel — from zero to 900 stores over the next year. Next time you’re seeing those friendly people and picking up your pizza at Casey’s, look for biodiesel at the pump.