Retail Dietitians: An Opportunity for the Food Industry to Influence Health

June 26, 2014

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Research shows that retail dietitians have an increasingly powerful voice when it comes to purchasing decisions and nutrition education for their supermarket. And as Americans become more interested in the healthfulness of their food, grocery store chains are relying on retail dietitians to separate fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition trends and research.

Although each supermarket chain organizes their nutrition team differently, retail dietitians play many roles, commonly conducting media outreach, store tours, one-on-one counseling sessions, presentations, and social media and newsletter/blog content creation. Often, corporate dietitians are responsible for overseeing the nutrition team, as well as liaising between other departments such as marketing, private label and product development. And as the FDA works to update the information included on the Nutrition Facts panel over the next two years, dietitians will continue to help consumers read and understand nutrition labels at point of purchase.

Retail RD experts like Annette Maggi (http://annettemaggi.com) , MS, RD, FLDA, Executive Director of the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance, recognize the influence of dietitians in the retail environment. She notes that “Health and wellness is on the radar of every retail CEO today, and dietitians are essential to developing and executing successful strategies and programs. I foresee a future where a dietitian will be CEO of a retailer, showcasing the importance of health and wellness in the retail space.”

The food industry and their partnering agencies are taking advantage of this audience by integrating retail RD outreach into their communications plans. FleishmanHillard’s (FH) food and nutrition team has been involved in a variety of different initiatives in partnership with retail dietitians. A few examples are included below:

  • What’s in Store: FleishmanHillard has hosted an exclusive event for supermarket dietitians at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE). At this event, FH clients showcase their products, network with retail dietitians and hear from a well-known speaker. Ellie Krieger and Dr. David Kessler attracted more than 40 dietitians in 2012 and 2013.
  • Toolkits: A number of FleishmanHillard clients have delivered digital and hard-copy toolkits to dietitians, equipping them with a combination of unbranded and branded materials to educate consumers about nutrition.
  • Webinars: The food industry is connecting with dietitians by offering them continuing education credits through dietetic practice groups, such as the Food and Culinary Professionals. These webinars often feature the latest in nutrition research, food innovations and industry trends.
  • Roadshows: Many retailers are offering the food industry opportunities to speak with their dietitians in-person on a variety of important topics. Some FleishmanHillard clients are embracing this opportunity by going on the road to present a combination of evidence-based science and brand promotion.
  • Targeted Events: Client luncheons, happy hours and product launches are a smart way to connect with dietitians. Since most dietitians are active on social media, they often take the opportunity to cover the event through live tweeting or blogging.