Would you buy more fruits and vegetables if they were right there in the supermarket checkout aisle, say next to your favorite candy bar or junk magazine? Are stores really moving fresh produce to the supermarket checkout aisle? Cathy Isom has that story ahead on This Land of Ours.
Grocery Stores Taking More Active Roles in Health Promotion
by Bruce Y. Lee, Contributor to Forbes
Grocery stores, supermarkets, and other large food retailers do not simply “store” food. They, in fact, can play major roles in what you choose to eat and drink. While this may not be new news to food marketers, health advocates have been increasingly recognizing this role and developing policies and interventions that target food retailers. With the obesity epidemic and other diet-related health problems bringing more attention to what you eat and drink, more and more grocery stores are finding that proactively establishing practices and programs that promote health may be good business . Such initiatives include:
Increasing stocking of healthy food. You can’t eat and drink what you can’t find. Healthier foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables may be more costly to obtain and maintain, which may lead some food retailers to refrain and abstain from selling them. For example, while natural foods age and have a limited shelf life, unnatural, highly processed foods can remain and appear the same for months or even years. Moreover, natural things often require refrigerator or freezer space, which costs money. However, statistics have shown that demand for organic food has been steadily rising over the past decade. These statistics along with the success of Whole Foods Market WFM -0.07% have prompted many large retailers to boost their offerings of organic food. (Of course, “organic” does not always mean “healthy.”)
Changing the placement of healthy foods in the store. Entering a food store hungry can be like going to a nightclub when you are lonely. You are more likely to go home with the first thing you see. Food manufacturers frequently will strike deals with grocery stores to put their products in more visible locations, such as near the entrance, at the ends of aisles, at eye-level, and close to the check-out counters. Cardiovascular disease researcher and Associate Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Matthew Freiberg, MD, MSc, remarks, “If you pay attention to the layout of many grocery stores, healthier foods are often on the periphery of stores while the center is dominated by more processed foods.” Recently, consumer demand has resulted in some changes in some grocery stores. For example, throughout Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Giant Eagle was a dominant grocery store chain until Whole Foods Market established a location in the East Liberty/ Shadyside area in 2002. After the Whole Foods Market began to draw customers away, Giant Eagle refurbished its branch in 2006 just a few blocks away, expanding its 23,400-square-foot store to 68,000 square feet, including more prominently featuring its produce and establishing 1,500 square feet devoted to natural and organic products in its center aisles.