- California-based Raley’s has created a new position — nutrition strategist and brand influencer — naming dietitian Yvette Waters to the role. The company said this position supports its “commitment to evolve their brand and stores to change the way customers eat.”
- According to a company release, Waters is responsible for creating a nutrition strategy, working with the merchant team to bring healthy products into stores, supporting team member education and developing customer education pieces.
- Waters was first hired by Raley’s to support the development of the company’s newest brand, Market 5-ONE-5, which debuted in May. She led the brand's nutrition strategy, developed the category standards and curated the product assortment.
With a dedicated position tasked with developing a nutrition strategy, Raley’s is focusing on a growing number of consumers who want to eat healthier. Waters’ prioritization on “personalized nutrition” specifically is also hitting a sweet spot. Younger consumers believe customization drives better value, according to new research from Technomic.
By creating this role, Raley’s is taking a page from other grocers who have taken similar initiatives. Hy-Vee has opened a standalone HealthMarket and hired dietitians for nearly all of its stores. In fact, the grocery store dietitian is nothing new. In 1988, Wegmans added its first registered dietitian to its staff. However, as healthiness becomes a bigger priority for more consumers, retailers are employing more of them throughout their chain. About half of the stores that responded to a survey conducted in 2016 by Progressive Grocer said they had registered dietitians on staff, with an average of 21 per company.
Such a position seems to be shifting from a differentiator to a necessity. According to Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, a distinguished professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers, consumers want to eat healthier, but they don’t because they’re confused.
“In fact, when they were asked about how easy it was to figure out how to eat healthfully, half said it was easier to do their taxes,” she told Food Navigator.
The grocery industry has a big opportunity to solidify itself as an authority by focusing on health and to help people navigate this complexity. This could provide the industry with a clear advantage over restaurant and c-store players fighting for the same consumer dollars. Adding perks like nutritional instruction and in-store dietitians can also encourage customer loyalty.
There could be further benefits for Raley’s with this new position. President Keith Knopf noted that Waters also will play an integral role in improving the nutritional value of the company’s private label products relaunch. With this hire, Raley’s looks to be leveraging not only the increasing demand for health and wellness, but also the growth of private label brands, which are increasing at three times the rate of national brands.