FMI – The Food Industry Association has released the 2021 Retailer Contributions to Health and Well-Being report, finding that grocery stores have made significant investments to expand their role as community destinations for health and well-being.
Eighty-four percent of respondents said their company has an established health and well-being strategy, and this same share of retailers report their company offers health and well-being activities for both employees and customers – an increase from 49 percent in 2019.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in efforts by food retailers to expand health and well-being programs and activities,” said Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, director of health and well-being at FMI. “Eighty-five percent of food retail executives who responded to the survey view these initiatives as key selling points for their store’s brand to compete for customer loyalty, and 69 percent believe they are a significant business growth opportunity for the entire industry in the years ahead.”
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the all-important connection between food and health for consumers and food retailers alike. Program focus areas shifted to nutrition and overall health and well-being to include self-care and preventive care. Half of food retailers say their company’s health and well-being programs and activities have significantly or moderately increased since 2019.
“This sharp growth in programs also includes an enhanced focus on employee wellness and community engagement,” said Register.
The report finds food retailers are using a range of outreach tools to deliver critical information to consumers and employees on health and well-being initiatives. They are amplifying traditional channels, such as in-store signage and weekly circulars, with dedicated marketing and education efforts on social media, apps and websites, to meet their cross-generational consumers where they are on digital platforms. Key topics for education range from vaccine information to common health concerns and healthful meal ideas.
Pharmacists, dietitians and other retail health care practitioners offer trusted guidance to consumers and are viewed as essential ambassadors for health and well-being. According to the report, 54 percent of these professionals also collaborate to enhance and develop new health and well-being programs for food retailers – up from 42 percent in 2019.
“The role of the retail pharmacist and retail registered dietitian has never been more important,” said Register. “These professionals have the skillset to support shoppers’ health and well-being needs and help translate experiences in-store and online for a cohesive journey.”
The survey represented 27 food retail companies and more than 26,000 stores ranging from small to large operators.