Report Outlines Business Opps for Retailers that Embrace “Food as Medicine”

Fresh vegetable juice from carrots, tomatoes and cucumber

Arlington, VA—FMI and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation have released a report titled The Food as Medicine Opportunity in Food Retail, which outlines business opportunities for food retailers to embrace the concept of Food as Medicine, based on multiple joint research studies that explored perspectives around this concept through the lens of consumers and food retailers.

“At a time of growing consumer interest in enhancing their health and well-being through food, it is appropriate to talk about the role of food in the context of medicine, as food can help prevent disease and promote health, manage chronic conditions, improve nutrition security and simply nourish,” said Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, director of health and well-being for FMI.

The report, which is available for free here, outlined a science-based definition of Food as Medicine, developed by the Academy’s Foundation and supported by a policy statement adopted by the FMI Board of Directors.

The report found that food retailers are prioritizing programs for customers and employees alike that align with the definition of Food as Medicine, even if those efforts aren’t labeled as such.

Over the past year, half of food retailers significantly or moderately increased their health and wellbeing programs. The report highlights five program models that food retailers could use to support specific initiatives and collect and report metrics to stakeholders. The combination of program models demonstrates improved results, such as positive health outcomes and return on investment for retail operations. The report also notes the importance of establishing credible messages and programs with an emphasis on connecting with shoppers through science-based, preventative, and universal communications.

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“Food retailers are established as trusted partners in a customer’s shopping journey, providing multiple touch points and interactions with customers—from in-store to online,” said Allison Yoder, MA, RDN, LD, the Academy Foundation’s Nutrition in Food Retail Program Development fellow. “Registered dietitian nutritionists can help guide retailers on how to meet the nutritional needs of their customers. As the food and nutrition experts, RDNs understand the important role that nutrition plays in overall health.”

The Foundation’s Nutrition in Food Retail Program Development Fellowship program is planning to release a resource to help registered dietitian nutritionists and food retailers assess their Food as Medicine initiatives.