Walmart adds digital tools to match products with health preferences
Walmart has launched an online and in-app experience based on a platform from nutrition technology company Sifter that includes a "Shop-by-Diet" scanning tool allowing customers to determine if products meet certain health preferences like diets, allergens, interactions with medications and medical conditions, Sifter announced in early January. The new tool builds on Walmart's efforts to make it easier for shoppers to identify products that meet their health and wellness criteria as retailers look to tap into the food-as-medicine trend.
After scanning a product's barcode, shoppers select health filters and the tool will let the shopper know if the product fits all, some or none of the chosen attributes. Shoppers can also examine the nutrition panel on the product page to see if it meets their needs and set up a "diet profile" that saves wellness goals, allergens, ingredients to avoid, health and lifestyle diets, and medications.
The MyDiet Profile lets shoppers select from more than 100 health attributes under areas like lifestyle and health diets, allergens and medications, and allows them to build a list of ingredients they want to avoid. Customers who set up a "MyDiet Profile" can paste a recipe link into a tool that determines how the recipe fits into the saved health preferences. When using the scanning tool, shoppers can toggle the filters on and off.
Other features include buildable shopping lists, a "Health Hub" with wellness content and explanations of different diets. Shoppers can select a specific Walmart store to browse and buy items, which have product pages with nutrition information, health attributes and preparation instructions.
Sifter was created by Andrew and Thomas Parkinson, founders of Peapod and ItemMaster, a product content platform for brands, retailers and consumers. The company claims its proprietary technology is "science-based" and uses input from registered dietitians, health and wellness organizations, major retailers, brands and data providers.
Sifter noted in the announcement that 200 million consumers are following a diet or health-related program and 85 million have allergies or food intolerances. NielsenIQ said last summer that more than 70% of shoppers look for specific product attributes when picking out brands and gave "heart-healthy" as an example of an important attribute among a majority of surveyed consumers.
Last year, Walmart added an online shopping destination called Built for Better to help customers find products aligned with their healthy food, clean living or sustainability goals. Digital icons identify products that meet independent standards like EWG Verified, Energy Star Certified or Rainforest Alliance Certified and are split under two labels: "For You” for nutrition and products made without specific materials or ingredients and "For the Planet” for products made in a way to reduce environmental impacts.
Competitors have also taken steps to make health-related products easier to find. Last summer, Amazon added certifications from health, organic and animal welfare organizations under its sustainable labeling program, while Target has added in-store and online "wellness icons," including identifiers like organic, "simple ingredients," "nutritious" and vegan.
Both Amazon and Walmart have linked labeling of health-related products to their sustainability efforts.