California City Requires Supermarkets to Remove Unhealthy Foods at Checkout

Perris is 2nd U.S. municipality to force retailers to incorporate healthier items at front end
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
Marian Zboraj
Trader Joe's Checkout
A Trader Joe's checkout aisle in Berkeley, Calif., before and after that city's ordinance on healthier food products went into effect. (Photo Credit: Anonymous/CSPI)

The California city of Perris will become the second municipality in the country to pass an ordinance improving the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages sold at supermarket checkout aisles. The city council of the nearly 80,000-resident city unanimously passed the policy on Feb. 14 and will require grocery stores such as WinCo Foods, Walmart and Dollar General to swap out soda, chips and cookies in checkout aisles with healthier alternatives such as fruit, nuts, seeds, seltzer, and other low- or no-calorie drinks.

According to dunnhumby's Consumer Trends Tracker, 44% of consumers said that it’s very or extremely important for retailers to help them make healthy choices, a 3% increase from the previous wave. Further, 48% said that they choose healthy foods while shopping (up 2%) and 40% read diet and nutrition information (up 2%).

The city of Berkeley, Calif., passed a similar ordinance in 2020, and it's now in effect. The Perris law goes into effect on July 1.

The campaign to adopt the measure was led by local community organizations like Love4Life and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley, alongside the statewide advocacy group Public Health Advocates, with support from Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

“The checkout aisle is the supermarket equivalent of waterfront property — and food manufacturers typically pay a premium to ensure that soda, chips and candy bars are visible there,” noted Karen Gardner, senior policy associate for Washington, D.C.-based CSPI. “This move will make it easier for consumers to avoid both marketing and impulse purchases of drinks and snacks that are high in sugar and salt. We hope more communities follow suit and pass similar policies.”

“We’re thrilled that City Council listened to the sweeping call from parents and youth alike in the community. We believe that this policy will be another step in the right direction for improved health and well-being in the city of Perris,” said Mónica Acevedo Guerrero, program manager for Public Health Advocates.

“As a youth-serving organization, we are excited to see healthier options at checkout to help create a brighter and healthier future in Perris for our youth,” said Julia Burch, assistant director of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Inland Valley.

Perris Mayor Michael Vargas championed the policy, with help from Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Marisela Nava. Additionally, Perris’ Youth Advisory Council played a lead role in obtaining support from the broader community.

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