Can Retailers Create Wealth From Health?


Strong communication between retailers and their customers is important, according to FMI’s The Power of Produce 2017. Noting that consumers are seeking ways to more deeply connect with their food and food choices, the report encourages retailers to ramp up in-store health and wellness signage to promote specific benefits of eating particular fruits and vegetables. It also suggests retailers educate shoppers on preparation methods.

Jessie Price, editor-in-chief, Eating Well, Shelburne, VT, suggests retailers do more of what they already are doing toward boosting convenience, including an ample display of fruits and vegetables that are cleaned, prepped and bagged. “Retailers also should give shoppers plenty of ideas for trying different fruits and vegetables. These can be little tags, rather than full-blown recipes, that say things like ‘You like broccoli? Try broccoli rabe’ or ‘You like roasted carrots? Try roasted delicata squash.’ ” She notes grocery chains can license Eating Well recipes for their website, email and social media to get consumers cooking more healthfully and eating more fruits and vegetables.

‘The produce department also needs more signage that gives basic instructions on how to cook less familiar vegetables like kohlrabi or how to serve dragonfruit.’

– Michael Ruhlman, Author

“The produce department also needs more signage that gives basic instructions on how to cook less familiar vegetables like kohlrabi or how to serve dragonfruit,” suggests Michael Ruhlman, author, Grocery and Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 200 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto, New York. “Produce associates should be well-versed in their department in order to engage with customers and encourage them to try something new. And carts could be redesigned with a large section just for fresh produce.”

The FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends uncovered an interesting paradox about recipes – shoppers name recipes as key way retailers could help them eat well, but only a small percentage actually take recipes provided at the store. FMI surmises that what shoppers really want is guidance and ideas for preparing healthy dishes and meals.


Healthy food means different things to different people. That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working on a definition to help consumers separate health from hype. In 2017, the FDA invited comments on definitions and received more than 1,000 responses.

The definition of health has evolved. “When our magazine was founded in 1990 and for many years after, health meant limiting fats,” says Jessie Price, editor-in-chief, Eating Well, Shelburne, VT. “People want foods that will make them feel better, look better, be stronger and boost their brain power. Our goal at Eating Well is to get people excited about the good stuff, which in large part is fruits and vegetables. No other food group has as much diversity as vegetables, and people are waking up to how exciting vegetables can be.”

To the Produce for Better Health Foundation, health includes happiness. “Happiness is a tangible and immediate benefit consumers notice,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, president and chief executive. “Research shows people who eat fruits and vegetables on more days of the week have higher life satisfaction and happiness.”

Experts agree a healthy diet includes plenty of fresh produce. Dr. David Katz, director, Yale University Prevention Research Center, Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT, notes “one thing that is incontestable associated with health is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have thousands of phytonutrients, and you can’t go wrong with a diet mostly made up of plant foods.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service recently published “Healthy Small Store Minimum Stocking Recommendations” for retailers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These include carrying 4 or 6 varieties of fruit, 6 or 8 varieties of vegetables, and 1 or 2 varieties of dark green or red/orange vegetables at the basic and preferred levels, respectively.