Moving From Test Market to All Markets: Translating Food Purchasing Research into Evidence-based Strategies to Improve the Purchase of Healthier Items Workshop Recap

On October 17, 2016, NCCOR brought together interested researchers, food retailers, and practitioners working via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed) and other public and private programs that promote healthy food purchasing by low-income consumers to participate in a workshop to engage in dialogue and form working relationships to enhance each other’s work.

The workshop began with opening presentations by Katie Wilson, MS., PhD., Deputy Under Secretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Mary Bohman, PhD., Administrator of the Economics Research Service, USDA. Following these opening presentations attendees listened to four sets of panels on topics covering the latest data from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisitions and Purchases Survey (FoodAPS), how retailers, researchers and practitioners can work together to achieve common goals, how healthy retail can be achieved under SNAP-Ed and other programs like Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matter’s at the Store, and additional resources and funding opportunities from various agencies and organizations.

Following the panel presentations, attendees came together to highlight their different perspectives and backgrounds to discuss how to move the dialog forward on research and its translation into evidence-based practice, promising opportunities for partnerships among researchers, retailers, and practitioners, as well as the value of partnerships to the retailers that make participating in research appealing.

Some takeaways from these small group discussions include:

  • Researchers should co-create research questions with retailers to obtain cooperation needed to conduct studies
  • Research questions and interventions need to be simple and straightforward in order for retailers to want to participate, (i.e. consider staff resources at the store)
  • Researchers need to speak the same language as retailers, so talk about surveys that are being done with customers as market research, etc.
  • Consider hosting a worksite wellness demonstration at a retail store as a way to begin to build a relationship with the retailer
  • Sales and the bottom line are the most important aspect to engaging retailers in these efforts; emphasizing the marketing benefits of having these kinds of initiatives is also important (i.e., stores can market themselves as the healthy option in their community)
  • Researchers/retailers need to be patient to see changes in sales data, as it can take about 6 months for a change in the store to demonstrate an outcome
  • Sixty percent of shoppers do not even go in produce section, so retail outlets need to place produce in cross-merchandised areas
    • Examples: bananas by cereal aisle, avocados near meat, soup mix (veggies) near meat section, strawberries near milk—all of these have been shown to increase sales of both items

Learn more about the Healthy Eating Research/NOPREN Healthy Food Retail Workgroup

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