The pandemic has trained a spotlight on the crucial connection between food and health for consumers and food retailers alike.
According to a new report from FMI — The Food Industry Association, grocery stores have made significant investments to grow their role as community destinations for health and well-being. In the trade organization’s “2021 Retailer Contributions to Health and Well-being” report, 84% of respondents to a survey said that their company has an established health and well-being strategy, with the same percentage of retailers noting that their company offers health and well-being activities for both employees and customers — an impressive uptick from 49% in 2019.
“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in efforts by food retailers to expand health and well-being programs and activities,” affirmed Krystal Register, 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% believe they are a significant business growth opportunity for the entire industry in the years ahead.”
The pandemic has trained a spotlight on the crucial connection between food and health for consumers and food retailers alike. Program focus areas moved to nutrition and overall health and well-being to include self-care and preventive care. Reflecting this shift, half of food retailers said that their company’s health and well-being programs and activities have significantly or moderately ramped up since 2019. “This sharp growth in programs also includes an enhanced focus on employee wellness and community engagement,” noted Register.
The report also discovered that food retailers are making use of various outreach tools to convey important information to consumers and employees on health and well-being initiatives. They’re amplifying traditional channels, including in-store signage and weekly circulars, with dedicated marketing and education efforts on social media, apps and websites to meet cross-generational consumers where they are on digital platforms. Among the key topics for education identified were vaccine information, common health concerns and healthful meal ideas.
Additionally, pharmacists, dietitians and other retail health care practitioners are seen as essential health and well-being ambassadors. According to the report, 54% of these professionals also work on enhancing and creating new health and well-being programs for food retailers, versus 42% 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 cited in the report covered 27 food retail companies and more than 26,000 stores run by small and large operators.
Arlington, Va.-based FMI encompasses a wide range of members across the value chain, from retailers that sell to consumers, to producers that supply food and other products, as well as the wide variety of companies providing critical services.