Having recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Bi-Lo is back in the game and looking to grow. One of the first orders of business is to enhance their health and nutrition profile. To that end, the company just launched Bi-Lo thrive!, a multiplatform program that provides nutrition education and identifies healthful foods in stores. A key part of that program is Monica Amburn, Bi-Lo’s new dietician, who spoke with Refresh this morning.
What are some of the opportunities and challenges for a dietician working in the supermarket industry?
It’s a very different environment for a dietician coming from the healthcare industry, like I have. I’m trying to learn the dynamics of the business, the politics, and how food even gets into grocery stores. It’s really just putting the pieces together, then being able to get your message across to the consumer in a way they understand. Getting a clear message across is the challenge, and I think that’s why retailers are bringing in dieticians these days. We’re really the people best trained to talk about food.
What will your day-to-day job be like within the new thrive! program?
I’m trying to figure out how I can reach as many people in the Bi-Lo market as possible without me being there every single day in person. I go from Chattanooga to Charleston, and that’s a very large radius for one dietician. So I’m working on our new publication and making sure that’s accessible, working with the media, and slowly but surely making it into the market, doing store appearances and seminars.
How will this unfold at the store level?
We have a dedicated endcap display in all the stores that features products I’ve talked about in the thrive! magazine. My picture will be part of that signage. We’ll also add shelf talkers to items that I’ve featured. As my themes change the signage will move to different items around the store.
So what’s the main message you want to get across to shoppers?
It’s not a vegan, tofu plan I’m trying to get across. Let’s take the way people in the South eat, but let’s make it just a bit healthier. I’m all for small changes and substitutions.
Is there a favorite dish or recipe you’re anxious to share?
You know, I went to a store this past weekend and sampled a recent recipe that was great — a Caribbean Summer Salad. It has corn and black beans and peaches in it. We sampled it in the store, and it went over very well.