By: Sue Borra, RD, Chief Health and Wellness Officer for FMI and Executive Director of the FMI Foundation
Consumers believe their food retailer is a trusted ally to help them achieve their health and wellness goals. According to 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends research, 45 percent of shoppers say their grocery store is working to help them stay healthy. In addition 89 percent of shoppers believe eating at home is healthier than eating at a restaurant. For these reasons, almost three-quarters of retailers say that consumer wellness and family health is a strategy they use to build a competitive advantage and most say they will use more nutrition, health and retail dietitian programs in the future. (Speaks, 2016)
To proactively assist retailers in serving the health and wellness needs of their customers, FMI’s Health and Wellness Council developed a new strategic plan in 2016. The new mission and vision for FMI’s Center for Food Retail Health and Wellness is that “food retailers will be a key partner in health and wellness in the communities they serve.” To assist retailers in achieving this mission, FMI will track trends and issues; serve as a resource on best practices; communicate food retail’s commitment to health and wellness; assist retailers and suppliers to network and collaborate on health and wellness for consumers and employees; and identify tools and benchmarks to evaluate progress of health and wellness in food retail.
In January 2016, FMI partnered with Deloitte and GMA to publish the study, “Capitalizing on the Shifting Consumer Food Value Equation”. This consumer research found that roughly half of Americans surveyed (51 percent) prioritize “evolving drivers”—including health and wellness—in their purchase decisions, in addition to the “traditional drivers” of taste, price and convenience. FMI has identified consumer health and wellness trends and emerging issues that are important to food retail and is providing resources on these issues to members. Food labeling issues, including menu labeling, GMO and nutrition facts panel, along with transparency are high priorities to meet the needs of customers.
FMI has partnered with Rodale, Inc. for more than 20 years to study shoppers’ awareness, interest and attitudes regarding food, health and nutrition. The 2016 research, Shopping for Health, presents a practical understanding of how health and nutrition concerns influence grocery purchases. The study revealed that two-in-three shoppers believe that food choices affect their health, but half say they struggle to find the motivation to eat healthfully. This means that food retailers have the opportunity to help their customers find and distinguish dietary choices and share convenient, healthy meal ideas that help feed families.
Promoting best practices and case studies serve as excellent models for food retail health and wellness programs. Many retailers have adopted National Family Meals Month™ in September as a key program to deliver health and wellness to customers. To assist in this effort, FMI is developing a guide of best practices in National Family Meals Month™ programs as a first in a series of health and wellness best practices guides. Building on the current trend to integrate health and wellness throughout the store, best practice guidance will also be explored for fresh, prepared foods, private brands, pharmacy and center store.
Because consumer values around health and wellness will continue to grow in importance and be a key purchase driver, retailers are in an excellent position to be a trusted one stop shop for health and wellness resources for the customers they serve. FMI’s Center for Food Retail Health and Wellness delivers resources and tools to help members meet the needs of shoppers.