Grocery Takes the Health & Wellness Spotlight

When it comes to health and wellness, grocery is having a moment.

More and more shoppers are embracing food as medicine, and consequently heading to local grocery stores to meet their health and wellness needs.

Food-as-medicine is not a groundbreaking idea; the concept can be documented as far back as the Ancient Greeks (the famous quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” can be attributed to Hippocrates). But until recently food-as-medicine has been more of a “fringe” idea than mainstream. While the public’s faith in traditional medical institutions and treatments has crumbled and healthcare costs have continued to rise, shoppers have renewed their interest in the idea. As a result, the functional food and beveragespace is exploding. And in the last year, health and wellness spending at grocery has started to rival mass and drug expenditures.

The food-as-medicine lifestyle encompasses more than increased organic and natural options. In response to growing shopper interest, grocery stores are adapting in innovative ways. They’re redesigning the grocery retail experience to accommodate wellness services and support, and playing an active role in shopper health management.

Several U.S. grocery chains have adopted a concierge culture to demystify the in-store health and wellness experience. Numerous grocery stores—including Albertsons, ShopRite and Hy-Veehave enlisted in-store dietitians to provide one-on-one consultations for customers. These dietitians lead walking tours throughout the store, pointing out healthy alternatives and easy ways to find balance on your shopping list. ShopRite has even developed an entire line of products, “Wholesome Pantry,” free of 110 artificial ingredients; everything on the list is recognizable and easy to pronounce.

In California, St. Joseph Hoag Health launched a program called “Shop with Your Doc,” which is exactly what it sounds like—physicians that accompany customers through the aisles of Ralph’s, providing grocery suggestions and answering any nutritional questions in real time. PCC Community Markets in Seattle have also taken the idea further by offering workshops on decoding food labels and wellness-themed cooking classes, including popular options such as Good-Mood Foods and Anti-Inflammatory Reset.

These efforts are no small undertakings, but they do allow for industry differentiation and present a reenergized case for brick-and-mortar locations. And as healthcare, wellness, and retail continue to merge, shoppers can trust they have a new partner in health: their grocery store.

Contributed by: Megan McCaslin

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