Inside-Out: How the Culture of Wegmans Food Market Transforms Health and Nutrition

Inside-Out: How the Culture of Wegmans Food Market Transforms Health and Nutrition

February 19, 2014


Michelle Leonetti
Senior Nutrition and Dietetics Student, Cornell University
Cornell Nutrition Health and Nutrition Society

Jane Andrews, MS, RD is the Labeling and Nutrition Manager at Wegmans Food Market, a chain of supermarkets based out of Rochester, NY with 83 locations across the North East. She has been selected to deliver the prestigious Lenna Francis Cooper Memorial Lecture at FNCE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. In preparation for the lecture, Jane visited dietetics students at Cornell University to share the key to her success during 25-years of supermarket nutrition.

It is no surprise that the company is consistently listed near the top of Fortune 100 Best Places to Work. What sets Wegmans apart is that they practice an “inside-out” corporate strategy where every employee, from cashier to chef, internalizes the company’s core ideals. They believe that good people, working toward a common goal, can accomplish anything they set out to do. The only way to achieve their goals is to start by fulfilling the needs of their employees.

Wegmans’ team of dietitians uses this model when implementing health and wellness initiatives. By translating the science to real world terms, they empower employees on all levels to believe in and live healthy lives and in turn, customers are encouraged to engage in similar patterns. For example, the Eat Well Live Well initiative is a wellness program that inspires individuals to support each other to enjoy healthier better lives using four simple “Eat Well Live Well” principles:

  • Strive for 5 cups of fruits and vegetables
  • Get moving
  • Calories count so watch your portions
  • Measure your progress

This program was first aimed towards employees, but was eventually expanded to the entire customer base. By first having employees actively engaged and enthused about health and nutrition, the results are evident in the subtitles of the store culture and are picked up by the consumers without them even noticing. In fact, most of the health initiatives proposed by the dietitians are tested on employees before being implemented by the stores. Currently blood pressure and gluten-free are Wegmans’ key priorities.

Eat Well Live Well has been a huge success and the culture of health and wellness can be seen impacting the entire company. One of the strongest examples of this is the pharmacy department: instead of simply issuing ACE inhibitors for blood pressure control, the pharmacists take advantage of the supermarket setting and use it as an opportunity to counsel individuals and refer them to resources that can help them live healthier lifestyles. This would not happen if the employees were not truly dedicated to the company’s key priority if reducing blood pressure.   

Although Wegmans does not currently have an in-store dietitian at every location, they ensure that cross-functional members of the team promote a culture of health and wellness that is imparted to the customers. They also make themselves readily available to consumer questions and comments. Wegmans has clearly demonstrated that this model of corporate culture can be successful in improving the wellbeing of everyone the business touches. Could this model be successful in your stores?

For more information on Jane Andrews and Wegmans Food Market, see her Retail Dietitian Close Up from March 2013: