Hy-Vee Looks for Healthy Returns at Checkout

Mar 17, 2011

The message on the Blue Zones website is, “We help
people live longer, better lives by optimizing their lifestyle and surroundings.” It
now appears that part of the surroundings includes a checkout lane at a Hy-Vee
in Albert Lea, Minn.

The Blue Zones checkout lane features items such as fresh
fruit, granola bars, seeds, nuts and other healthy snacks rather than the candy,
gum and other items sold at the typical front-end.

Amy Pleimling, a dietitian
with Hy-Vee, told The Albert Lea Tribune that
the store has seen a 42 percent increase in the items sold at the Blue Zone
checkout since it opened.

The new lane is not considered one of the “main” checkouts
in the store and is sometimes closed when others are open, according to Ms. Pleimling.
Even so, she told the Tribune, “Parents send their kids to that
lane for a snack, and then they’ll return to the lane they’re checking
out in.”

Blue Zones founder and best-selling author Dan Buettner brought
the idea of a healthy checkout to Hy-Vee as part of Albert Lea’s Vitality Project,
which looks to raise awareness of health issues.

Discussion Question: Are checkouts with healthier snacks something that will catch on with other supermarkets?

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7 Comments on "Hy-Vee Looks for Healthy Returns at Checkout"

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David Biernbaum
10 years 2 months ago

Hy-Vee is one of the best kept secrets in all the supermarket industry because this small Midwestern retailer always seems to be on the leading edge of innovation. I like the healthy snacks check lane if it doesn’t get too crowded!

Donna Brockway
Donna Brockway
10 years 2 months ago

I think this is one of those “obvious” ideas that will allow retailers to engage their consumers in the discussion around health related food. Particularly when it comes to their children, consumers want to see and know about healthier choices, and this is a great way to sell them that option, and at higher margins, I imagine. I can even see fruit and vegetable juices added to the small coolers than now offer main-stream beverages at check-out. I don’t see sugar and chocolate treats disappearing, I just see some variety in the choices being offered to consumers.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
10 years 2 months ago

Candy-free checkout lanes that began in Europe are now prevalent in the US. However, such lanes are bland by comparison and miss the impulse snacking opportunity altogether. The concept of a healthy snacking opportunity represents a real potential upside for retailers, who may consider employing it in more than one checkout, as a point of positive differentiation.

Anne Bieler
Anne Bieler
10 years 2 months ago

This has to be one of those good ideas that will spread. Parents always have a difficult time with tempting gum and candy–healthier offerings can make a difference for shoppers and grocers. What a nice change for those who want a healthy snack–easy to select and in the moment.

Joan Treistman
10 years 2 months ago

Based on the findings reported the Blue Zone concept could be the medicine dose we’re all looking for. It’s a voluntary opportunity to buy healthy snacks. It’s a reminder that you can do just that for yourself and your family. And as described, it’s a reward for kids to head over and pick up treats for themselves.

It suggests that this could work on larger scale without being intimidating. A small section that changes every few days with examples of foods you can pick up and buy that will make your pantry a healthier resource would be easier to shop than an aisle of organic foods (not necessarily healthier). Just a thought! Yay Blue Zone!

Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson
10 years 2 months ago

Stocking healthier items at the checkout lane isn’t new, but it’s still a good idea to offer such items for the health and wellness shopper. And such initiatives fit well with the Blue Zones approach, i.e., it takes a community to help create healthier aging consumers.

Given the success the Hy-Vee lane has achieved, I’d like to see the retailer broaden the program, e.g., add additional Blue Zones’ lanes, expand it to an aisle or section of the store, and/or add health/wellness in-store classes and website info. And while other merchants may not be partnering with Blue Zones, they can still mount similar initiatives in their stores.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
10 years 2 months ago

We discussed healthy checkouts here some time ago, as part of SuperQuinn’s strategy in Ireland. Then there was a student group that worked with a local Walmart (Anderson, California) to provide healthy snacks at the checkout. Obviously, this is an idea that is not going away.

I note particularly that Quinn did not do this driven by the known economics, but on the grounds that it would attract family shoppers. I don’t know the economics, but clearly it touches shoppers in a positive way.

Just as an FYI, The Food Trust is actively promoting things like this checkout initiative, and has a Food Marketing Working Group that will meet in a couple weeks to focus on this checkout and similar promotion of nutrition marketing initiatives.


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