Retail Dietitian Close Up: Ellie Wilson, Price Chopper
Ellie Wilson is a registered dietitian and Senior Nutritionist for Price Chopper/Golub Corporation, located in Schenectady, NY. She holds a M.S. in Community Health Education, and advanced certification in weight management for pediatrics, adolescents, and adults, and worksite wellness planning.
As Senior Nutritionist for Price Chopper, Ellie is developing nutrition resources for the entire chain of 128 stores. She is active professionally with the Hudson Valley Dietetic and New York State Dietetic Associations. Ellie is also honored to be one of 21 appointees to the New York State Governor’s Council on Food Policy. Additionally, she holds a position on the NuVal ® Dietitians Advisory Council, Topco Dietitians Advisory Council, and is also an advisor for the Troy, NY-based Sage Colleges Dietetic Internship.
1. Tell us a little bit about Price Chopper.
Price Chopper is a supermarket chain of 130 stores in six states throughout the Northeast. In 2012, the company celebrated its 80th anniversary, but the roots go back to 1900, when Russian immigrant Lewis Golub opened a lunch shop and dairy store in Schenectady, NY. Schenectady is still home to the corporate headquarters and also other notable industries, including General Electric.
2. What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position with Price Chopper?
I began my retail career here at Price Chopper following a successful clinical and education career and a Master’s degree in Community Health Education. I have been in my position for six years. I report to Maureen Murphy, our Manager of Consumer Trends, Lifestyles and Nutrition. We are part of Pharmacy, Health and Wellness at Price Chopper. My role is very diverse and includes internal and external nutrition communications and programs; working with our field team of registered dietitians; media efforts; and managing the NuVal ®Nutrition Scoring program for the entire chain.
3. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge for me has been learning to speak “retail” – understanding how products are sourced, how we communicate about them, how stores operate, and finding ways to elevate the healthier items. I have worked with various departments to learn their priorities and then use our channels to support those priorities. I do believe I am still on a very steep learning curve! The rise of conferences that focus on the supermarket RD has been key to learning about the food retail business and what resources are available that RD’s can use effectively in our stores.
4. What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I have sought out media training as well as increased skills in negotiation, Excel, and project management. I have also worked hard on understanding the regulatory constraints and guidelines around nutrition information and communications in food retail.
5. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I had a better understanding of the amazing pace of this business and how competitive it is.
6. Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am really proud of our store RD efforts. We currently have two full-time and four part-time RD’s in various market areas. They educate in stores and represent Price Chopper to the community in many ways. It is important to our business that we can highlight the resources we have that support health, as those needs will just continue to grow and be relevant to the supermarket industry. The registered dietitians that work with us bring great skills, energy, enthusiasm and excellent creativity to Price Chopper. Their store presence helps us better understand how our shoppers view nutrition and what their needs really are. It has been exhilarating and enlightening to work with them all.