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Registered Dietitians play a major role as grocers associate food with health

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Diving Brief:

  • Registered Dietitians (RDNs) play an essential role in the health and wellbeing efforts of grocers as it relates to food, according to the Food Industry Association (FMI) in its latest report.
  • Eighty-one percent of food retailers surveyed employ nutritionists, with nearly two-thirds (65%) at the corporate level, about a third (31%) in stores or physically and 12% regionally, FMI found. Nearly half (48%) said that nutritionists have strategic leadership roles.
  • “Retailers, product suppliers, and manufacturers have more opportunities than ever to benefit from the work of registered dietitians in efforts to make grocery stores more powerful destinations for health and wellbeing,” FMI said.

Diving Insight:

The grocery industry is increasing its ties to healthcare as retailers focus on food as medicine, which is what the Academy is doing
The Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation defines it as a philosophy where food and nutrition help people through interventions that support health and wellness.

FMI said that many of its supermarket members are already providing one-on-one counseling with RDN and that “remote feeding” initiatives have “expanded significantly” since the pandemic began, reducing customer barriers to accessing nutrition counseling.

A food retail setting provides a unique opportunity for RDNs to promote public health through nutrition-focused, solution-oriented guidelines for shoppers, FMI noted. RDNs can help customers and employees shop in aisles virtually or in person, provide nutritional advice and support a range of initiatives, from preventive medicine to disease management and treatment.

The trade group noted that grocers see financial incentives when they link their food offerings more closely to the health care needs of customers. Nearly two-thirds of retailers (61%) in FMI’s The Food Industry Speaks survey said that making use of food to manage and avoid health issues was one of the biggest positive issues that affected their sales and profits last year.

“When food and nutrition programs are presented by trusted grocery store experts (in person or online), the idea of ​​framing the grocery store as a community destination for health and well-being, comes true,” FMI said in the report. .

Nearly half (48%) of shoppers surveyed said registered dietitians help them stay healthy, while 46% and 44%, respectively, said the same for food store and grocery store pharmacists, according to the report.

The trade group noted that “one-on-one counseling with RDN can help a client build a meaningful shopping list, improve available tools and resources, manage health conditions, identify obstacles, monitor biometrics, and ultimately celebrate success.”

Health and wellness offerings are also affecting grocery workers along with consumers. More than a quarter of the retailers surveyed (27%) said they provide nutrition counseling to employees, while 39% provide healthy classes, 46% offer health checks and 65% have healthy recipes.

FMI said that the increased use of virtual platforms to connect with partners has further helped provide support to employees, such as providing access to the same programs and resources created by dieticians that are available to
Client.

At the end of 2021, FMI created the Employee Wellness Share Group, which includes participants from the company, to help leaders create employee health programs. Across businesses of different sizes, group members have discovered that they face similar challenges, the trade group said in the report.

According to FMI, “the group discussed best practices on topics such as leadership communications, appealing to multi-generational employees, leveraging in-house websites and applications, linking to community activities and measuring benefits.”

On the legislative front, FMI supports bipartisan legislation that would increase access to advice with RDNs by allowing Medicare coverage for Medicinal Nutrition Therapy (MNT), which can help people manage and treat disease, to include a wide range of medical conditions such as prediabetes and cancer.

“The legislation will also increase the list of qualified providers who are authorized to refer their patients to MNT, adding nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinical nursing professionals, and psychologists,” FMI said.

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