Retailers interested in pursuing health and wellness programs at their stores must be willing to make a total storewide commitment to the concept, a panel of industry executives said Thursday during a discussion at Supermarket News at Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.
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"Too often companies can be close-minded and keep doing the same old/same old," Raymond McCall, SVP of pharmacy and HBC for Ahold USA, Quincy, Mass., said. "But there's been a paradigm shift, with consumers telling us they'd prefer we focus on health and wellness on endcaps, and that's something we have to educate our category managers and merchandisers about.
"You can't simply be tactical about it. You must be very strategic."
Stephanie Steiner, director of sales and marketing for Unified Grocers' Market Centre, added. "Health and wellness can't stop with the center store. You can't be authentic and still sell reheated frozen macaroni and fried chicken that's become tough in your service deli without also offering leafy greens. That approach is what gets in the way of the kind of health and wellness programs we're trying to build."
Read more: SN's coverage of Natural Products Expo West
During the same session, entitled "Leveraging the Total Store Health Experience," Thomas Honer, owner of two Harvest Market IGA stores in Northern California -- in Mendocino and Fort Bragg -- said while it may be difficult to change the attitudes of adults toward healthier eating, it is possible to start with schoolchildren. He said his company started a program with the local school district seven years ago to feature a fruit or vegetable every month that kids can take home -- an effort that has helped increase produce sales at his stores.
Supermarket News at Expo West was held just prior to the Natural Products Expo West, sponsored by New Hope. Both SN and New Hope are owned by Penton Media.
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