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Learning to entice the health food shopper could be a boon for fine food retailers, whose shelves are already packed not only with carefully crafted, small-batch artisan food, but also natural, clean label products and organic, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
Discovering how to market your offering towards health-seeking food lovers could open your shop up to a whole new segment of consumers.
“For a long time, many people associated being healthy with calorie counting, reducing sugars or following specific elimination diets,” said Bethan Wallace Higson, founder of switchel brand Mother Root. “However, today there is a more nuanced understanding of health, particularly from a nutritional and functional perspective. We are beginning to connect the dots that what we put in our bodies (more than what we take out) has a powerful effect on how we feel, both physically and mentally.”
With consumers drawn to a food-as-medicine approach rather than specific diets, fine food retailers should bring products with natural health benefits to the fore.
Supplements and CBD oil might not be quite right for your store, and that’s okay! As a fine food shop, taste and provenance are what your customers expect, so prioritise products that taste fantastic and have a great story.
After meeting these requirements, you can branch out to innovative, functional benefits, targeted ingredients like adaptogens or other health claims. “Stay core to your values on taste, but make sure to put on shelf interesting food and drinks that tick some of the key functional and health benefits people are most concerned about today,” Bethan concluded.
Although health food is not your speciality, experts suggest you’ll be better off mixing health-centred products around the store, rather than in a specific ‘health food’ aisle or shelf that can be easily missed. “Just a few years ago having a ‘health’ focus was seen as food trend; now health messaging is everywhere,” said Edward Taylor, founder of sustainable shake brand SUST.
And if there are specific wellness benefits you know your customers are looking for, like products that promote relaxation or gut health, try highlighting these product benefits on the shelf.
If you spot a health trend that you’ve never heard of, you may take that as a sign: your customers probably haven’t either, so they’re less likely to be interested. While you can leave the niche products to the health food stores, read up about the industry’s biggest health trends, like gut health, low and no alcohol beverages, mood-food teas and immune-boosters.
Look out for headline-grabbing, superfood ingredients too, like apple cider vinegar or ashwagandha. One way of keeping up with these trends is by subscribing to our free Synergy buyer briefing newsletter – sign up here!
Keep an eye out for innovation in areas like healthy convenience. “Many will point out that simple vegetables and fruits provide all the health and nutrition we need,” said Max Spiegelberg, marketing director at sustainable tea brand Greenypeeps, “but there’s still a significant demand for convenience, and that’s where the health and wellness space has room to grow.” Think grab-and-go formats and healthy snacking innovations.
Consumers are beginning to link healthy eating with their desire to choose products that are healthier for the planet, and the intersection of sustainability and health is area that fine food retailers can make their own.
“At Greenypeeps, we believe the two are intrinsically linked. Foods that are good for you tend to be good for the planet,” Max said. For example, he said, “Organic produce is cleaner for our bodies and does not introduce harmful, man-made chemicals into our ecosystem. Vegan or vegetarian diets tend to be healthier with a vastly reduced environmental footprint.” Make the most of this eco-health intersection by stocking products that balance sustainable stories with healthy outcomes, like locally grown, seasonal fruit and veg.