Grocers committed to health and wellness programs, survey says

Grocery stores are meeting consumer demands by expanding their health and wellness offerings, according to results of the Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) third annual Food Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness survey. In fact, 96 percent of the retailers surveyed said their companies are committed to growing wellness programs in their stores.

More than half of food retailers, 54 percent, reported having established health and wellness programs already, and 73 percent indicated a belief that maintaining wellness programs is a responsibility for grocers, reported Progressive Grocer.

As supermarkets become increasingly seen as health care destinations, 95 percent of stores employ dietitians at the corporate, regional and store level. Health and wellness is becoming a focal investment in stores—70 percent see health and wellness programs as a growth opportunity for the entire industry in the future.

In-store programs will continue to grow as millennials and Baby Boomers increasingly demand healthier options from grocery stores. According to a recent LoyaltyOne U.S. consumer survey, 84 percent of millennials said that being able to redeem points for a session or consultation with a chef or nutritionist would motivate them to shop more with that grocery store.

The trend is especially apparent when looking at specialty grocers, such as Sprouts and Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM), which focus on healthier options. In the latest quarter, Sprouts reported that sales for the year were up 22 percent from 2013, and up 21 percent for the quarter. Success has also spurred growth at Whole Foods, which opened a record 13 new stores in 2014 and expanded into seven new markets. That growth will continue into fiscal 2015, with an expected 38 to 42 new stores.

A majority of respondents, 74 percent, maintain balanced activity on the health and wellness front to engage with healthy and sick customers alike.

"While I consistently observe more coordination and collaboration among food retail health professionals, I'm witnessing a stronger culinary focus among our members," said Cathy Polley, executive director of the FMI Foundation and VP of health and wellness at FMI. "Notably, more than half of the food retailers in this survey employed chefs at the corporate level, many offering cooking classes focused on diabetes, weight management and simple family meals."

For more:
-See this Progressive Grocer article

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