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Food Retailers Increasingly Positioned as Wellness Destinations

Results of Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) third annual Food Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness survey of food retailers illustrates the growth of health and wellness programs sponsored by grocery retailers. FMI surveyed food retailers on how they are meeting the needs of shoppers seeking healthier lifestyles and even medical solutions, and the findings present a complex combination of corporate social responsibility and increasing opportunities for retailers to partner with consumers in health.

Food Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness demonstrates increasing growth of health and wellness programs in the food retail setting, with 54 percent reporting they have established health and wellness programs and 73 percent of respondents indicating health and wellness programs are a responsibility. 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.

According to Executive Director of the FMI Foundation and VP of Health and Wellness at FMI, Cathy Polley, RPh, retailers are uniquely positioned to combine their existing strength as a mealtime solution provider with their burgeoning expertise as a health resource. “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 in a statement. “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.”

Nearly 30 retail chains representing more than 6,800 stores across the country responded to the survey, which was conducted in November and December 2014. While not all operators participated in the survey, FMI believes it has achieved a representative response of retailers’ health and wellness initiatives nationwide. 


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