Wegmans Focuses on Healthy Snacks

Inspired by a study from the Hartman Group finding that 50 percent of today's "meal occasions" are actually snacks, augmented by its own research with employee volunteers, Wegmans Food Markets is planning to introduce in-store displays in spotlighting fast make-at-home noshes like mini sweet peppers filled with fresh guacamole and organic turkey rollups with a slice of cheese and organic baby spinach.

Meanwhile, displays in the grocery chain's prepared food areas will highlight such on-the-go healthy snack options as Wegmans Organic Vegetable Barley Soup, Wegmans Organic Chicken Dumplings and Wegmans Garden Skinny Roll (vegetarian sushi).

Along with the signs and displays, stores will hold tasting and sampling events through early summer, so customers can try out these treats and others, while Wegmans Portion Bags will show customers how to measure out their snacks in quarter-cup increments.

"When the Hartman research on snacking came out, we approached it as a challenge to raise our game in helping customers make healthier snacking choices for themselves and their families," explained Heather Pawlowski, VP at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans. "We made healthy snacks a company priority for 2015, and to check that we were on the right track, we did additional research last fall with employee volunteers. From all areas of the company, over 1,200 employees took a survey about snacking habits, and 295 of them also participated in focus groups to discuss things like what makes a snack 'healthy,' the challenges they face with healthy snacking, and what Wegmans could do to maximize the appeal of healthy snacks for our customers. That employee input was enormously helpful in shaping our plans."

The grocer additionally offers snacking ideas in its Wegmans Menu Magazine and provides a free week-by-week Meal Guide to help shoppers improve their nutritional intake.

Family-owned Wegmans operates 85 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

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