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The Dietician as Advocate

The corporate dietician's pitch to consumers is nicely summed up in the old James Taylor song: "You've got a friend."

That's the message of Karen Buch, director of Lifestyle Initiatives, Weis Markets, who takes her dietician role very seriously.

"Corporate dieticians must build trust relationships with consumers," she said at a session of Future Connect. "They have to advocate for consumers even though they work for retailers. Our goal is to guide consumers to make healthier choices."

Buch does this partly by steering shoppers to "nutrient-dense foods with real antioxidants" and helping them make sense of conflicting product packaging claims.

But dieticians can't stop there because advocating for the consumer also means influencing decisions at the store level, she pointed out.

"Supermarkets need to get more nutrient-dense foods into stores," she offered as an example.

Buch expressed hope that consumers would translate their growing interest in television cooking shows into more at-home cooking. She said retailers need to be prepared with the right items in stores.

"You want to be ready," she told retailers, "And your category management has to focus on that."