Research Finds Consumer Interest Drives Opportunity for Food as Medicine in Grocery Stores

September 23, 2021

ARLINGTON, VA – FMI—The Food Industry Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation released The Food as Medicine Opportunity in Food Retail, a report that outlines business opportunities for food retailers to embrace the concept of Food as Medicine” based on multiple joint research studies that explored perspectives around the concept of Food as Medicine 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 outlines 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.

Half of food retailers significantly or moderately increased their health and well-being programs over the past year. The report found that food retailers are prioritizing programs for both customers and employees that align with the definition of Food as Medicine, even if they are not specifically referring to them as Food as Medicine efforts.

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, including positive health outcomes and return on investment for retail operations. The recommendations in the report also note the importance of establishing credible messages and programs with an emphasis on connecting with grocery shoppers through science-based, preventative and universal communications.

"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."

Additional research projects helped inform this latest report, including FMI's Power of Health and Well-being in the Food Industry 2021 and 2021 Report on Retailer Contributions to Health and Well-being as well as the Academy Foundation's Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape paper and its Retail Nutrition Programs and Outcomes Scoping Review.

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

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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity dedicated exclusively to supporting nutrition and dietetics professionals by empowering them to help consumers live healthier lifestyles. It makes an impact with Academy members and throughout the profession with its scholarships, awards, research grants, fellowships, public education programs and disaster relief efforts. Through philanthropy, the Foundation empowers current and future food and nutrition practitioners to optimize global health. Visit the Foundation at www.eatrightFoundation.org.