Hy-Vee's Goal: Make Dietitians Accessible Chainwide

Hy-Vee is working to ensure that each of its 228 stores, regardless of size or location, has access to a dietitian, said Randy Edeker, president and chief operating officer of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain at the 2010 Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit, hosted by SymphonyIRI.

SAN ANTONIO — Hy-Vee [3] is working to ensure that each of its 228 stores, regardless of size or location, has access to a dietitian, said Randy Edeker, president and chief operating officer of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain here Wednesday at the 2010 Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit, hosted by SymphonyIRI.

Hy-Vee currently employs 135 in-store, and three corporate dietitians, but in some of territories there is only one dietitian available per county. It's working to grant access to shoppers in its smaller stores through a dietitian sharing program.

"If you have a child who has a nutritional health need, or you yourself do, if you've had a heart attack, if you have diabetes or celiac disease, where do you go?" Edeker said. "Most would go to the hospital in these counties. We saw a huge branding [opportunity] with granting access to our customers right inside their store."

By building its reputation as a credible health information source, Hy-Vee hopes to gain the loyalty of shoppers, Edeker said.

"If we sell pork and beans for 25 cents and we're five cents cheaper than our closest competitor this week, then we've gained their loyalty until next week," he said. "But if we save a loved one's life or helped them change their life, we'll have their loyalty forever."

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