NACS Collaborates on Healthy Options Resources

Growing consumer demand for healthier eating leads to innovative efforts that help address obesity and other nutrition-related diseases.

September 25, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW) released its final report highlighting a broad-scale effort to address the problems of obesity, diabetes and other nutrition-related diseases in the United States. Among the achievements highlighted was its work with NACS.

To address the deep mistrust that often exists between the food industry and the public health community, PNW brought together diverse groups including food manufacturers and retailers, public health experts, healthcare providers, consumer advocates and health insurers, to create retail based programs that would encourage consumers to make healthier food choices and others. Collectively the groups worked on projects to put market forces to work to increase the demand for healthier foods.

PNW developed, tested, and implemented a variety of strategies to promote the sale of healthier foods and beverages in grocery and convenience stores nationwide. PNW worked extensively over two years with NACS to help promote and sell better-for-you foods in their stores.

This work included the publication of the Hudson Institute’s “Health & Wellness Trends and Strategies for the Convenience Store Sector” and work with Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, including the Eight Evidence-Based Ideas to Grow Better-for You Sales.

NACS and PNW also are finalizing for publication of six case studies that examine trials related to marketing and merchandising of better-for-you items in convenience stores. These case studies will be published and made available with other tools that have been developed as part of the NACS reFresh initiative.

“PNW was invaluable in facilitating conversations with key leaders in the nutrition community and that has directly led to several deliverables with groups like the Hudson Institute and Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab. The new result of our partnership with PNW is that our industry is better able to provide healthier choices to consumers across the country,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

PNW also identified four recommendations for future cross-sector collaboration:

  • Develop a national campaign around healthy eating and living. “Food manufacturers, food retailers, health insurers and public health and community groups could work together to develop a broad marketing campaign or master narrative to encourage healthier eating. The campaign would be implemented through a coordinated series of marketplace and communications programs that reach consumers in multiple ways such as when food shopping, visiting the doctor or listening to public service announcements, the report noted.
  • Support efforts to integrate food retail, nutrition and healthcare services. “The growing awareness of the connection between food choices and good health provides an opportunity for greater integration that would offer consumers a one-stop-shop for food, nutrition and healthcare services. Some retailers, for instance, have begun offering nutrition counseling services and/or have created health clinics with their stores. Financial incentives such as coupons or dining points for the purchase of healthier foods could be built in,” PNW wrote.
  • Improve the supply chain for fresh foods. “Small retailers [like convenience stores] often have limited access to fresh produce and other healthier items. These retailers could work with suppliers, distributors and others to develop innovative solutions to improve the fresh foods distribution system,” PNW reported.
  • Assist small chains and independent stores. “These stores have limited capacity to develop strategies to promote and market new products. They would benefit from partnerships with the public health community and academic institutions to develop easily adaptable, low cost marketing and communications strategies that promote healthier foods,” PNW suggested.

The Project on Nutrition and Wellness was convened by Convergence Center for Policy Resolution. Convergence is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that convenes people and groups with divergent views to build trust, identify solutions, and form alliances for action on critical national issues.

“PNW’s collaborative model has shown that when it comes to shaping consumer demand, diverse sectors can be united around a common mission. PNW stakeholders and others demonstrated that cross-sector collaboration to grow consumer demand for healthier foods is not only possible, but also profitable. If purchasing healthier foods is more desirable, affordable, and available, more consumers will make the healthier choice,” said Robert J. Fersh, president and founder of Convergence Center for Policy Resolution.