THIS YEAR'S WH SOURCEBOOK IS ALL-NATURAL, filled with honest ingredients and is good for you — and your business. Working in this industry, we couldn't have it any other way.
Health and wellness remains a strong growth category for supermarket retailers, and its success warrants our annual compilation of names, numbers and ideas. This is the third year we've gathered data for a yearbook. There's a survey, category statistics, a directory of industry contacts and our very own list of the Top 25 food retailers doing great things to move the entire segment forward.
A lot is at stake for supermarkets. Just before we went to press, the Natural Marketing Institute announced that retail sales of consumer packaged, health and wellness goods in the United States reached almost $103 billion in 2007, representing growth of 15% over 2006. That's not only a lot of money — it's a golden opportunity for supermarkets to step out and distinguish themselves during a time when specialty and alternative formats are encroaching on conventional supermarket territory.
That brings me to another point. After 5 years of selling wellness, is it fair to even call supermarkets “conventional”? As you'll see, many have developed whole health merchandising strategies, outreach programs and corporate policies that are anything but ordinary. The longer food stores operate under the wellness umbrella, the more specialized they become.
You'll read all about these special efforts in the “Fit 25” section, which has quickly become the centerpiece of the WH Sourcebook. The list singles out those operators who have come to exemplify the new thinking that pervades whole health. This involves not only products and the process of selling, but the services that make up any comprehensive wellness program.
What qualities do each of the retailers possess? Every one of them shares a commitment to being the best in the field, starting from the chief executive on down to the store manager. Strategies are clearly communicated and executed in an organized manner. It doesn't matter whether its a website full of health-related information, or buying office policies for ethical, ecological products. These 25 retailers demonstrate the ideals embraced by the whole health movement — and prove that profits don't necessarily violate the spirit of the lifestyle.
One change that veteran readers will see this year is the way we present our annual “WH Asks” industry poll. In past years we went online to question subscribers. This year, in conjunction with our sister publication Nutrition Business Journal, we conducted an unprecedented survey of the wellness landscape, through the eyes of three groups: consumers, retailers and manufacturers. The results are perhaps the most complete snapshot of the whole health business out there right now. Avero Research, which organized the project, took the additional step of presenting the findings as actionable takeaways, not just simple answers. We think you'll find it infinitely more helpful in planning your wellness programs for the next year. The poll is augmented by a whole new set of statistics from organizations like Mintel International and the NPD Group.
Finally, we've updated the “Green Pages,” our retailer-friendly directory of organizations, agencies and institutions that interact with mainstream supermarkets on a regular basis. Each has a program, staff expert or website that can help solve the challenges operators are facing today as they make whole health a pillar of their product and service offerings.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Feel free to email me directly at [email protected].