The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) is having its first ever Supermarket Health and Wellness Conference May 11 – 13. Due to consumers’ increased desire to purchase foods that promote good health, the industry is taking proactive steps to “develop health and wellness programs and market to the evolving shopper,” according to FMI’s news release March 10. The conference is an encouraging sign that consumers are becoming more educated about the importance of making healthy food choices and make their wishes known.
According to the FMI’s website and backgrounder, the institute operates on behalf of its 1,500 member companies, which are food retailers and wholesalers around the world — not food shoppers and consumers. Its combined annual sales volume of $680 billions represents three-quarters of all food retailers in the U.S.
Consumers’ need unbiased information
FMI’s plans to “develop strategies and tactics to capitalize on emerging health and wellness opportunities across the entire store,” is an indication that they are aware of consumer concerns about having healthy food choices. While I believe information provided by supermarkets will be accurate, I’m not convinced it will be presented without bias. Consumers are already obtaining comprehensive and unbiased information and educational resources from other sources, such as The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Dietetic Assocation (ADA). In fact, these organizations and others are at least partly responsible causing consumers to begin to seek out healthier options.
I believe that FMI’s move to create education at the store level is a good one; however, I do not believe consumers should rely solely on this information in making final decisions about which foods to purchase. Consumers would be wise to continue educating themselves and staying up to date on the latest research and comparing information provided through supermarket programs to other reliable sources.