Cathy Polley, RPh
Vice President, Health & Wellness, Food Marketing Institute; and
Executive Director, FMI Foundation
FMI research reports that fewer than 33 percent of shoppers say they have put a lot of effort into eating a healthful diet. In the 21st annual survey, Shopping for Health, which we conduct with Prevention magazine, consumers cited cost and lack of motivation as major barriers to healthy eating.
I know my audience, and I understand you also recognize these obstacles as opportunities for supermarket dietitians. Dietitians are a means to success in the aisles, as evidenced by your mounting roles within the structure of organizations. Your approach to consumer education also helps lift the veil of misperception – especially when it comes to the reported opinion that it costs too much to eat a healthy diet.
Solutions in the supermarket are more about how to stretch one’s dollar and be creative in order to excite the palate. The answers can be simple: I’ve witnessed increasingly more of our grocery members touting easy, simple ways to cook vegetables, for instance. Nutrition solutions are also more complex and integrated into the company’s communications strategies: More supermarket dietitians are using the Internet and social media verticals to exchange nutrition advice and tips with their customers.
While consumers are recognizing their personal obstacles, we should be encouraged that they haven’t all succumb to “eating their feelings.” We’re witnessing a new momentum that grocery dietitians can help encourage. Specifically, our research demonstrates that the majority of shoppers across age groups put at least a little effort into eating healthily and only six percent don’t try at all. Among those consumers making the effort, 74 percent report success with eating healthily more than half the time – the highest rate since 2007.
Compared to 2011, our research has also signaled a new trend in consumers switching to healthier versions of the food they used to eat. Perhaps the most notable change was in the yogurt category where 34 percent of consumers switched to a healthier yogurt, up nine points from 2011. Consumers are also taking ownership of their diets by reading more labels, with nearly three-quarters of shoppers reporting they generally read food labels for ingredients and other product information. Supermarket dietitians can again be an agent for change in helping to guide more positive decision-making demonstrated in this survey.
The Shopping for Health survey results indicate that the majority of consumers want to be successful. It’s through your roots in counseling that consumers can find encouragement through in-store signage, customizable cooking courses, personalized store tours or even just lending an ear to the struggles of sticking to a new regimen. Supermarkets have become part of consumers’ diet support system.
At FMI, we continue to be your support system as you feed families and enrich the lives of your customers. Through research and programs like our Gold Plate Awards, elevating the strategic work of companies that are executing creative health and wellness programs, we can all help guide success in the journey to health.
FMI members can download a free copy of Shopping for Health at FMI.org/Store