CHICAGO -- It was proclaimed here last week, during the 2000 Food Marketing Institute Convention, that whole-health is not a trend. With someone in the U.S. turning age 50 every seven seconds, whole health is a reality that many supermarket operators -- both large chains and some independents -- have come to embrace.
The importance that whole health will play in the future direction of the food industry's growth was seen in FMI's creation of the Whole-Health Pavilion that comprised 17,000 square feet on the trade show floor with about 55 exhibitors of natural and organic foods as well as other health-related products.
Approximately 25% of the exhibits represented nonfood products and services. These included: HealthNotes, Weider Nutrition International, Integrative Medicine, New Hope Natural Media, Beaumont Products, makers of Citrus Magic, OneSource Magazine Distribution, Bollinger Industries, Spins, Rodale, naturesbuy.com, In2nutrition.com, Universal Nutrition, The William-Allen Company, Tree of Life and VitaCeutical Labs.
While the pavilion, located in a far corner of the exhibit floor, appeared quiet in terms of traffic, retailers that SN spoke with were pleased with the concept and the offering devoted to the emerging area of health and wellness.
"We think whole health is a consumer movement that is going to grow and it offers us an opportunity to grow as well. The pavilion is fantastic and they've got some sessions where you can sit down and talk to industry experts about the issues," said Hank Mullany, chief operating officer and executive vice president, Genuardi's Family Markets, Norristown, Pa.
"It is undeniable. More and more consumers are concerned about their health. The business is definitely growing that way," said Jeff Brown, president and CEO, Brown's Super Stores, Bellmawr, N.J. Despite the potential, the four-store operator said there has been a "huge" resistance to price of healthy foods in his market that services families in lower to middle incomes.
David James, chairman and president, E.W. James & Sons, Union City, Tenn., said they recognize the health movement and are beginning to tap into it through organic produce. However, James said his market area is resisting the higher prices charged for organic foods.
Besides the debut of the whole-health pavilion, FMI also announced that it will present a whole-health retail conference, Nov. 3-6, in Broomfield, Colo. The conference will be co-sponsored by HealthNotes, the Portland, Ore.-based supplier of nutritional-health information via computer kiosks and Natural Business Communications, the Boulder, Co.-based publisher covering the natural and organic products industry.
The Whole Health Marketing & Retail Strategies Conference represents a collaborative effort between the natural products and supermarket industries. "This conference will allow attendees to learn successful strategies for a total store approach to whole-health retailing, said Kai Robertson, FMI senior research manager, who leads FMI's whole health solutions effort. The conference is being held for retailers, marketers and suppliers of health promoting foods, natural and organic products, dietary supplements and nutraceuticals and other complementary over-the-counter products and services.
During a workshop session, "Whole Health Solutions: A Sales and Relationship Building Opportunity," Phil Lempert, editor the Lempert Report and contributing Editor, USA Weekend, Santa Monica, Calif., told attendees that "health is not a trend or a fad. It is reality. Everybody in the country really does want to live longer and that is the opportunity."