Operation Wellness: Health Advocates

Operation Wellness: Health Advocates

Food retailers across the country have taken a stand on health-related issues, whether that involves speaking out about health care reform or merchandising their stores as health and wellness destinations. As an industry that employs more than 3 million people and interacts with millions more shoppers each week, supermarkets are well positioned to play a leading role in the nation's escalating focus

Food retailers across the country have taken a stand on health-related issues, whether that involves speaking out about health care reform or merchandising their stores as health and wellness destinations.

As an industry that employs more than 3 million people and interacts with millions more shoppers each week, supermarkets are well positioned to play a leading role in the nation's escalating focus on health care, wellness and nutrition.

In the articles linked below, SN profiles eight industry leaders who have taken leading positions at the forefront of those issues. (See "Related Articles" for additional Operation Wellness stories.)

Some, such as Steve Burd, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Safeway, have attempted to shape the nature of the health care reform debate in Washington. Others, such as Ric Jurgens, the chairman, president and CEO of Hy-Vee, have focused more on transforming their stores into wellness centers.

Burd, in calling for incorporating more personal accountability into health care reform, said 70% of all health care costs are driven by individual behaviors.

“If we could influence the behavior of our employees, we could actually bend the cost curve and improve their health,” he said.

Likewise, Mike Duke, the president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, has reached out to Washington with a plea for cost containment in health reform as well as a call for a mandate on businesses to provide health insurance for workers.

John Mackey, the chairman and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has discussed his company's high-deductible insurance plan, combined with health spending accounts, as a cost-savings measure that could benefit 10 million Americans.

Other supermarket companies, such as Kroger Co. and Ukrop's Super Markets, are leading with their pharmacies as the anchors of comprehensive whole health solutions that also incorporate healthy food choices.

As Food Marketing Institute wrote in its Trends report this year, “Many retailers offer a wide variety of health and wellness focused programs to their shoppers and their associates, from health store tours and cooking classes, to in-store clinics and website resources.”

Eight Health & Wellness Leaders

Steve Burd [3], Safeway
Mike Duke [4], Wal-Mart Stores
Ron Hodge [5], Hannaford Bros.
Ric Jurgens [6], Hy-Vee
Danny Wegman [7], Wegmans Food Markets
John Mackey [8], Whole Foods Market
David Dillon [9], Kroger Co.
Bobby Ukrop [10], Ukrop's Super Markets