CHICAGO – As consumers want foods that are healthier and more sustainable, many grocery stores are bringing in dietitians and other health experts to individual stores to answer shopper questions and highlight healthful options, the Chicago Tribune reports. “It’s growing by leaps and bounds,” said Phil Lempert, a grocery store analyst who founded the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance several years ago.
Currently, around 11,000 supermarkets in the United States have access to a dietitian, who typically rotates among several stores. While many grocery chains have had dietitians on the corporate payroll, now they are using these health advocates to engage customers in discussions about healthy habits. “We do more than just pile it high and sell it cheap,” Lempert said of having dietitians at the store level. “We care about your health.”
Dietitians conduct store tours for customers and do cooking demos, as well as interact individually with shoppers. “I love being able to make an impact on a customer right at the point of purchase, but also that can be frustrating because it's like: How do I do that?” said Allison Parker, a dietitian who works for Mariano’s.
Analysts like Lempert expect dietitians to become more commonplace at the grocery store, especially with around 96% of supermarkets saying they will expand their health and wellness programs in the coming years.