ShopRite finds free fruit program ripe for expansion

Dive Brief:

  • ShopRite has added five New Jersey and Pennsylvania stores to those that have been offering free fruit to kids under 12 when they're in the store. The program was launched earlier this year to encourage consumption of healthy snacks, Grocery Headquarters reported.

  • The kids are given a banana, clementine or another seasonal fruit when they enter the produce department with a parent or guardian.

  • The program is overseen by a team of dietitians inside each store. “We are committed to offering parents ways to provide healthier food choices for their children while shopping in our stores,” Jeannie Colallilo, a director of community relations for ShopRite, told the publication. “We’re happy to provide our customers with an easy way to demonstrate to their children that fruit is fun and delicious.”

Dive Insight:

In 2015, Today's Dietitian outlined ways dietitians can "boost retail business and improve public health” – a tactic being implemented in the U.S. where projects have encouraged purchases of more nutritious products. In Texas, a dietitian working with a select group of Kroger stores created a “Fork Friendly” program employing shelf tags to indicate healthier food choices. Wegmans invites local health care professionals to pre-store-opening events called “Medical Sneak Peeks” to show resources the chain has created that may help patients who shop in its stores.

And another ShopRite in New Jersey recently invited third graders from a local school, taught them about making wise food choices and then turned them loose to put into practice what they'd learned. T-shirts and prizes were awarded.

A Forbes article in March of last year names a number of chains – including Giant Eagle, Costco, Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's – that have stepped up sampling, the use of special signage and other promotional devices to suggest healthier choices like organics to shoppers. 

For grocery stores, handing out fresh fruit to children that promotes good health also may be good for business. Children may be more interested in visiting the store if they get something free, even if it's fruit. At the same time, the program fosters loyalty among parents who appreciate the gesture and the chance for another way to teach their children to eat healthy. As ShopRite's expansion of the program shows, free fruit is a thriving and potentially lucrative business with little upfront costs. As retailers struggle to deal with Amazon and meal-kit delivery services, expect additional grocers to harvest more low-hanging fruit with similar programs of their own.

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Filed Under: Grocery Ingredients Food Safety Marketing
Top image credit: jeltovski