By: Rick Stein, Vice President, Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute

I can remember, not too long ago, when I would walk the aisles of a grocery store andFMI-12092014_115_WEB simply think to myself, “what am I hungry for tonight?” On a summer weekend, I would walk by the meat department and perhaps buy the biggest, thickest steak I could find to put on the grill for dinner. Clearly, my sense of taste was driving my purchasing decision.

Fast forward a dozen years or so, I am more conscientious of my health and the related issues that come with growing older. My doctor now kindly reminds me to, “Watch what I eat.” I still walk the aisles of the grocery store, but now I wear a slightly different lens, and my purchasing decisions are driven by my health and wellness needs.

According to 2017 Top Trends in Fresh, 230 million individuals will be living with chronic illnesses by 2030, and it’s no surprise to hear, that healthcare premiums are also soaring. In response, consumers are focusing on self-care and holistic foods. Now when I visit my doctor the conversation is usually around what foods will benefit my health. It’s amazing how many choices in the Fresh Department help consumers prevent and manage disease states, increase nutrition needs, and increase vitamin intake without the need to swallow a handful of supplements. Food is powerful and it’s proving its ability to prevent specific illnesses.

Like many consumers shopping for health, I ask myself, “What tastes good AND is good for me?” FMI and IRi presented research that shows food can have a significant impact on your health. Shoppers are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially foods that can prevent/manage disease and chronic illness, according to 2017 Top Trends in Fresh research. Broccoli, garlic, beans, citrus fruits, and tomatoes all are known to prevent diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions.

In the age of holistic health, retailers are well-positioned to help shoppers meet their health and wellness goals. Research from 2016 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends reports, 45 percent of shoppers say their grocery store is working to help them stay healthy. In-store resources and signage engage consumers to better understand their holistic health needs and support their shopping journey. I enjoy seeing tons of holistic health choices at my local supermarket and health benefits listed on many of the fresh food items. Shopping the aisles will never be the same as holistic health plays a bigger role in consumers’ shopping habits.

To learn more, access FMI and IRI’s Top Trends in Fresh: Holistic Health webinar. This is the first of a five-part webinar series. Other topics include Social and Cultural Alignment, Personalization, Hyperlocalization, and Retail Response