For the third year, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) surveyed food retailers on how they are meeting the needs of shoppers who are seeking healthier lifestyles, and the findings present a complex combination of corporate social responsibility and vast business opportunities for food retailers.
FMI’s “Food Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness” demonstrates exponential exploration and growth of health and wellness programs in the food retail setting. Among the key findings:
• Supermarkets are increasingly identified as a health care destination: 95 percent of stores employ dietitians at the corporate, regional and store levels.
• More than ever before, food retailers are investing in health and wellness in their stores: 70 percent of those surveyed currently view supermarket health and wellness programs as a significant business growth opportunity for the entire industry in the years ahead with pharmacists and dietitians taking the lead.
• Whether shoppers are sick or well, food retail health and wellness programs are designed to help: The majority of respondents (74 percent) have organized their health and wellness activities to balance engagement with both well and sick customers.
Cathy Polley, executive director of the FMI Foundation and VP of health and wellness at FMI, says the survey substantiates how food retailers are well positioned as a health resource to shoppers in addition to a curator of mealtime solutions.
“While I consistently observe more coordination and collaboration among food retail health professionals, I’m witnessing a stronger culinary focus among our members,” Polley said. “Notably, more than half of the food retailers in this survey employed chefs at the corporate level, many offering cooking classes focused on diabetes, weight management and simple family meals.
“Beyond classes and recipes cited in the survey, food retailers are aware of the numerous studies that cite the benefits of families eating together more often,” she added. “In 2014, they clearly embraced this concept with 84 percent saying they are actively promoting communal eating, such as family meals.”