Select New York City Stop & Shop, Western Beef and Junior's food stores are launching a pilot program that gives participating grocery shoppers discounts of up to 50% on fresh produce, and 25% to 30% on healthy food products like lean meat, milk and yogurt from 200 participating food companies, Winsight Grocery Business reported.
Consumers with a Healthy Savings card can access these rewards by downloading a free app that can be scanned at checkout. About 1 million shoppers have access to the program, and have saved more than $1.5 million by buying healthier foods, according to Solutran, the Minneapolis-based technology company that created the program in 2013. Solutran expects to offer the program nationally later this year.
According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. The CDC suggests three main objectives to increase consumption — lower costs, expand access and improve education efforts. The Healthy Savings program is attempting to do all three, and has been growing at a steady pace since its launch five years ago.
The program enables members of partnered health insurance companies to purchase healthy foods at a significant discount. Solutran says the program can reduce monthly grocery bills by more than $150. Grocery retailers that have jumped on board include Cub Foods, Marketplace Foods, Giant Food, Pick 'n Save and more throughout the Minneapolis, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. markets.
Ahold USA also added the program to more than 700 of its locations in the fall. The company said the initiative will eventually be available across all of its Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, and Giant/Martin's divisions in eight eastern markets.
Marissa Nelson, SVP at Ahold, told Supermarket News that the program provides "meaningful incentives" for loyal shoppers." Other grocers also feel that the program fits into their overall mission to help their shoppers save and promote nutritious habits. Deb Kowalski, from Kowalski's Markets, told the Shelby Report, "Healthy Savings allows our customers to save on healthier items at the grocery store and complements our current health and wellness initiatives."
Programs like this could be a lucrative branding opportunity for grocers looking to stand out from their competition. Today's shoppers are more health-conscious than ever before, and providing an easy way to save on healthy groceries could be an attractive enough value-add to poach consumers from competitors.
It will be interesting to see if the program eventually expands to include healthy convenience foods, which are a growing demand for time-strapped shoppers — especially millennials. Grocers are increasingly leveraging the store perimeter to feature prepared food stations, smoothie bars and freshly-made meal kits to appeal to this demographic. Offering discounts on these grab-and-go items could help ensure loyalty from this generation and the average shopper, both of which are shopping at multiple retailers to get the deals and products they want.