FMI survey tracks health and wellness programs by food retailers

The leading health initiatives in the FMI "2019 Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness" report.

Health and wellness is alive and well at food retailers, the Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) "2019 Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness" report has confirmed.

In fact, nine in 10 respondents surveyed said that their retail organizations had an established health-and-wellness program, an 86% jump from when FMI previously reviewed the topic in 2017. The latest survey called on representatives at 39 food retailers overseeing more than 20,000 stores under their belts. 

With healthy brands like Albertsons’ O organics, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Nature’s Promise private brand, Kroger’s Simple Truth brand and all of the healthy products under virtually every retailer’s store brands, as well as initiatives like ShopRite deploying in-store dietitians, food retailers are continuing to expand in the area of health and wellness.

Another interesting finding in the report is that compared to the 2017 study, more organizations today are putting an emphasis on products and programs that help consumers achieve better wellness, as opposed to a combination of wellness and helping them with an illness. The 2019 study found 26% of respondents were “mostly focused” on wellness compared to only 11% in 2017.

As far as actual initiatives go, 84% said they’re rolling out “good-for-you products,” be it their own or a national brand offering; nearly 70% said they’re offering content like healthy recipes and product samples; 68% said they’re providing menu labels with health information; and 64% said they’re supplying healthy prepared foods.

Other health-and-wellness programs covered in the report: 85% reported that they’re employing registered dietitians, with 70% of those at the corporate level and 27% of those at the regional level. One in three grocery stores reported having an in-store clinic for shoppers.

Online still offers untapped potential, with 94% of respondents providing online shopping, yet only 70% extend their health-and-wellness initiatives to those online shoppers. Shoppable health-and-wellness content and better program integration can give retailers the chance to enhance their health-and-wellness programming, according to FMI.

“Overwhelmingly, food retailers see health-and-wellness programs not only as a business growth opportunity (71%), but also as a way to meet consumer expectations (63%),” said Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS, chief food and product safety officer and SVP food safety at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Grocers understand their value as both a destination and partner in a shopper’s health-and-wellness journey. The report finds retailers offer an enormous spectrum of health-and-wellness programming, especially around activities that provide more shopper experiences and product assortment.”

FMI's complete "2019 Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness" report can be downloaded at the trade association's website.