Creating Center Store Solutions for Plant Based Diets
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
One piece of advice supermarket dietitians hate to hear from others is to “shop the perimeter of the store for the healthiest foods”. Retail RDNs strive to bring convenient and affordable meal ideas to their shoppers and understand that the center of the store has an abundance of healthy ingredients to make mealtime easy. This is also true for those customers who must follow a special dietary regime or for the increasing number of shoppers trying to consume more plant based meals.
According to Neilson research, the center of the store has seen a slight decline in purchases over the past few years, however, there are substantial opportunities to promote center aisle products that meet the needs of today’s wellness focused shopper. Many products offer healthy profiles and a variety of ethnic options. In addition, with one-third of shoppers spending less than 15 minutes preparing dinner, there are convenient product selections perfect for quick assembly meals.
Using the trend and interest in plant based meals, let’s take a look at how to build consumer-friendly solutions for driving sales to the center aisles:
- First identify key product categories for meal bundling such as: whole grains – pasta, rice, ancient grains, grain blends; pulses – canned beans, peas and legumes; canned tomatoes and sauces; canned vegetables and fruits; shelf stable soy, almond and coconut beverages; and more.
- Next, communicate the health, convenience and affordable features these products offer. Many center store ingredients offer a great nutrition profile and are very budget friendly. For example, canned beans require no cooking and provide fiber, protein and other key nutrients for a low cost. In addition, research shows beans, peas and legumes can provide heart and digestive health benefits.
- Finally, show shoppers how to assemble several meal idea “kits” under 15 minutes. Whole grain tortillas + canned black beans + seasoned diced tomatoes, or instant brown rice + canned salmon patties + peas. Showcase these options in a creative end-cap, during a store tour, through intercom messaging or through digital communications. You can also highlight new items that you want to let customers know about and include options for fresh meal accompaniments from the perimeter of the store.
Bottom line, you’ll be meeting your customer’s need for health, convenience and affordability with simple, satisfying meal ideas across the entire store.