Natural products are driving growth in most every category across all channels. Shoppers are looking for healthier alternatives to supplement their diets. Health conscious shoppers read labels carefully because they want to know what is in their food and how it was produced.

But what about the fresh food departments typically found around the perimeter of the store?  How can retailers capitalize on these important trends to satisfy their shopper’s needs and attract new loyal customers?

First, retailers need to understand what’s driving the trends in natural organic.  Natural organic, or better-for-you products, are capitalizing on shopper’s needs for products that strive to fully meet their nutritional needs.  This includes unprocessed or minimally processed products with ingredients found in nature.

At the heart of the natural products movement are terms like transparency and authenticity. Surprisingly, many consumers believe that Non-GMO is “better” than organic.  It is not.  Non-GMO simply means that the seeds used to grow a plant are not genetically modified.  Organic products are Non-GMO by definition.

Only certified organic products come with the promise of not being tainted by pesticides and herbicides. Many of the organic products have “clean labels” meaning there is complete authenticity and transparency in every step of how they are made – from the raw ingredients to the final product.  This frequently includes sustainable farming methods that benefit the environment and those of us who rely on it.

Similar to other departments, retailers want to be the market leader.  Retailers need to have a healthy balance of natural organic products to enhance and augment their current product selections.

The produce, dairy, and meat departments are the entry point for consumers wanting healthier products.  This is where they begin to explore nutritional options to decide what products will best meet the needs of their families.  For example, experts recommend that children only drink organic milk produced by cows that are not fed GMO grains and antibiotics.  Others may want fruits and vegetables free of herbicides and pesticides.

The important point here, regardless of your beliefs about organic products, is that consumers want choices.  Shoppers want to make choices based on their beliefs, needs and wants. Retailers willing to provide well-merchandised quality choices will reap the benefits of a reputation for being customer-centric, experience increased category sales, and more loyal shoppers.

An added benefit of this strategy is the opportunity to improve shopper engagement by offering to help educate shoppers about healthy food alternatives.  Several retailers have deployed nutritionists throughout their chains.  Other have adopted product nutrition grading scales.  Some retailers effectively use both.

This creates a more intimate relationship with their shoppers that can lead to sustainable customer loyalty.  Shoppers want and need to be appreciated and valued.  Sometimes, the best way to accomplish this is to partner with them to help them reach their goals for health and vitality and the happier life that comes with it.

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