Wholesale Healthful Snacks, Beverages Growing in Popularity, Profits

Why go healthy? Food and beverage selection makes a shift.

I’ve talked (and will again someday) for hours about the need to have better access to more wholesome food & beverages. We are passionate about improving the health of working Americans and our children, reducing healthcare costs, addressing the growing obesity epidemic (pun intended), increasing productivity, and promoting happier, healthier lives. But we’ve been described as young and optimistic, perhaps a little too rebellious. What about other food industry organizations? Mass retailers have enthusiastically embraced this trend, resulting in higher profits per shelf space. Despite a sluggish economy, an upsurge of new independent shops catering to health-conscious consumers is palpable, especially in cities like Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Austin, Virginia Beach, and college towns nationwide.

Healthy is where the money is.

Healthy Items more profitable

More healthful food options improve public health while driving higher transaction totals.

Although it may be a little too early to tell, these forward-thinking stores are doing very well. According to the NWSFA (2012), health-focused grocers, restaurants, and food-trucks are out-performing more traditional local independent grocery stores in key growth areas across the U.S.. Even convenience stores, with reputations for peddling junk food, cigarettes and beer, have made the leap. Reacting to the demand, and looking to attract more millenials – who statistically spend more on snacking than other generations – 7-Eleven stores have profited from a recent revamp of their snack section to include healthier snacks and organic options. “Better-for-you is one of the fastest growing segments of the snacking category,” Rebecca Frechette, 7-Eleven VP of Merchandising, told USA Today in an interview last month. Sure, I’m biased, but I would argue that healthy is THE fastest growing food segment, and with the combination of increased education and the growth of supply driving prices down, more access to better foods for lower-income areas will drive the market to even higher levels in the near future.

Corporations are also seeing value in providing their employees smarter options in break rooms, micro markets, and vending machines.  Way back in 2005, BYU published a study in Medical News Today that showed an ROI of 16:1 for every dollar invested in employee health and healthful food options. In 2008 Businessweek had reported that Microsoft had implemented a program that labeled food to make the better choices more recognizable, i. e. sugar-free had one color-coded icon, gluten-free another, organic sustainable, low-carb, dairy-free, vegan, etc. This program is similar to the City of Chicago’s 2013 Healthy Places Initiative, which labels vending machine options with stickers saying “Go,” “Slow,” or “Whoa,” based on their nutritional value.

What about Vending?

The trend has been obvious for years. Now that the pickier millennial generation dominates the snack-buying market, virtually everywhere one can find grab-and-go food and beverages caters to the health conscious with more nutritious and/or lower-calorie selections, and often offers allergen-friendly, gluten-free, organic options as well. Everywhere, that is, except most vending machines. Although there are a number of larger and/or more progressive vending operators that offer a more healthful section in their catalogs, why is this major segment of the F&B industry so slow to react? This concerning issue is something I will tackle in another post.

Is healthy for you?

Have you seen increased sales after expanding your selection of healthier foods and beverages? Share your thoughts about wholesale better-for-you snacks and drinks below.