Healthier Supermarket Layouts Improve Customers’ Food Choices, Study Finds

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ANI |
Update:
08 Sep 2021 09:58 STI

London [UK], September 8 (ANI): New research from the University of Southampton shows removing confectionery and other unhealthy products from nearby checkouts and end of aisles and placing fruit and veg near store entrances encourages customers to buy healthier foods.
The study is published in the open access journal PLOS Medicine.
The study, led by Dr Christina Vogel, senior public health nutrition researcher and Janis Baird, professor of public health and epidemiology at the University’s MRC Lifecourse Center for Epidemiology, was conducted in partnership with the channel national supermarket Iceland Foods Ltd. places in a selection of Icelandic stores in England and tracks store sales as well as buying and eating habits of a sample of repeat customers.

The results showed that store-wide confectionery sales declined and fruit and vegetable sales increased when non-food items and water were placed at checkouts and at the end of opposite aisles, and that an enlarged fruit and vegetable section has been repositioned near the entrance to the store. Beneficial effects were also observed for the purchase of fruits and vegetables by households and the quality of individual diets.
Speaking about the results of the study, Dr Vogel said: “Changing the layout of supermarkets could help people make healthier food choices and shift the diet of the population towards the dietary recommendations of the. government. The results of our study suggest that a healthier store layout could lead to the weekly sale of nearly 10,000 additional servings of fruits and vegetables and about 1,500 fewer servings of confectionery in each store.
This research is more comprehensive than previous studies testing whether placement strategies can promote healthier food purchases with limited reach, for example by including only one location (i.e. boxes) or by placing healthy and unhealthy products together. This study went further, aiming to reduce customer exposure to calorie opportunities by placing non-food items at checkout and at opposite aisle ends and measuring the effects on in-store sales, shopping habits. purchase loyalty cards and diet for more than one household member.
Matt Downes, Head of Format Development in Iceland, said: “We were delighted to support this long-term study and the assessment of how product placement in supermarkets can affect our customers’ diets. We know childhood obesity is a growing problem and the retail industry has a role to play in tackling it. We hope that the results of the study will provide information to the entire retail industry and policy makers on the impact of in-store merchandising on purchasing decisions.
Professor Baird added: ‘These findings provide new evidence to suggest that the UK government’s planned ban on prominently displaying unhealthy foods at retail outlets may benefit the diets of the population and that effects could be further enhanced if the requirements for a product section near supermarket entrances were incorporated into the regulation. (ANI)

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