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RD Symposium: Keeping Up With Trends


Retail dietitians heard about the latest food and shopping trends, and saw their peers honored for their innovative consumer outreach efforts, on the second day of Progressive Grocer’s Retail Dietitian Symposium in Chicago.

PG presented three RDs with its first Outreach Innovation Awards, honoring programs that included elements from store tours to sampling to website messaging to community outreach, all aimed at creating value for their customers, retail associates and banners.

  • Mary Snell, director of health and wellness at Marsh Supermarkets, was recognized for her Fresh Ideas for Education and Guiding Stars programs.
  • Alicia Jerome, health-and-wellness manager for the United Family of Stores, accepted on behalf of her team for its Color Your Basket program.
  • Alyson Fendrick, corporate dietitian for Homeland Stores, was honored for the Get Healthy Challenge.

Additionally, PG has allied with the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance, whose president/CEO, “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert, presented its RD of the Year Award to Stacy Bates, of H-E-B.

Lempert also introduced Food Marketing Institute’s Sue Borra in her new position as FMI’s chief health-and-wellness officer.

Industry Trends Impacting RDs Growth

Harry Stagnito, board member of PG parent Stagnito Business Information + Edgell Communications, presented this session focusing on the ongoing transformation of the grocery industry and highlighting the advantages RDs bring to their companies.

Key to the future of RDs:

  • The Store of Tomorrow: Industry consolidation, emergence of upscale regional retailers, products catering to local demographics, thematic stores with chef-driven prepared foods, and health-and-wellness centers.
  • Wellness Isn’t Health: The difference between health (science and function) and wellness (mind, body and spirit. Stagnito urged retailers to “understand how to promote health and wellness” to control the discussion amid the conflicting information flooding mass and social media, noting that shoppers make decisions “by emotion, supported by logic.”
  • Practical Insights and Technology: Personalization and interactivity, through such vehicles as social media, shopper insights and loyalty programs.
  • Internal Collaboration: Aligning health and wellness with the corporate mission, and working with category managers and pharmacists on common goals.

The RD Experience

Lempert and PG Editor-in-Chief Jim Dudlicek led an audience discussion of the highlights from PG’s latest annual retail dietitian survey. The lively exchange examined “what’s next” as RDs shared their experiences with positioning their role, creating ROI for their banners, and how they connect with shoppers, store associates and their communities.

Key points of the survey, which will be published in PG’s August 2016 issue, included:

  • Half of responding retailers reported their company has RDs, with an average of 21 per company.
  • The most frequently reported methods used to promote health, wellness and nutrition: company website, signage, circulars and product sampling.
  • RDs have the greatest impact through individual and group counseling, in-store consultations, in-store clinics and tours.
  • Most reported RD responsibilities: answering consumers’ questions, working with community partners and employee nutrition education.
  • In terms of progress of RD programs, 37 percent say they’re “in the game, see the merits and continue to build the program”; 21 percent are “just getting started”; and 15 percent are “very advanced,” meaning that customers associate their banner with healthy products and support.

Additional sessions on the final day of the symposium included:

  • A presentation of the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel program, presented by GMA Senior EVP Jim Flannery.
  • The science behind packaging claims, presented by Campbell Soup.
  • Making the meat case matter to today’s shoppers, presented by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
  • Shifts in breakfast consumption trends, presented by PepsiCo Nutrition.
  • A roadmap on strategies for RDs to leverage omnichannel retailing, presented by HealthyAisles and ShopWell Labs.
  • An exploration of macro consumer trends in the snack and candy category, sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, whose annual Sweets & Snacks Expo kicked off Tuesday, May 24, in Chicago.
  • A cooking demonstration by Kendall College Chef Tom Masse

Follow live event coverage on Twitter at @pgrocer and @jimdudlicek



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