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Supermarket Wellness Watch: Aldi earns high grades for school health efforts

BY David Orgel

Food retailer Aldi is known for its low prices, high quality, small stores and exclusive brands. But it represents something else as well.

The company is one of the best U.S. examples of a retailer that combines discount pricing with a big commitment to health and wellness. The impact is fairly large because this global company operates more than 1,600 stores across the United States, and is on a growth spree with remodels and newly added stores.

Lately, much of its wellness efforts have been focused on supporting kids’ health through partnerships with U.S. schools. Aldi, whose U.S. operations are based in Batavia, Ill., has done its homework to understand the needs.

“We like to think of ourselves as an ally for our customers in better-for-you shopping and living, and believe that access to nutritious food and physical activity should be available to kids everywhere,” Liz Ruggles, Aldi spokesperson, told Drug Store News.

Aldi’s initiatives are seen as differentiating the retailer in the highly competitive U.S. food retailing business. A wide range of retailers — from grocery stores to drug stores and supercenters — are vying for the consumers’ food dollars. Moreover, Aldi itself will soon face a new U.S. rival when its German-based global discount competitor Lidl launches here.

Aldi this year has nearly doubled its U.S. commitment to health-and-wellness programs for kids, with more than $2 million for partnerships, grants and education support.

Much of the activity stems from its ongoing partnership with Action for Healthy Kids, an organization that supports school health efforts. This includes $650,000 in “Parents for Healthy Kids” grants to “expand student access to in-school physical activity and nutrition programs,” the company said. Aldi’s strategy also involves national sponsorship of the recently held “Every Kid Healthy Week,” which “helps students make the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning.”

Moreover, Aldi is supporting the creation of a soon-to-be-launched online community called “Parents for Healthy Kids,” a program involving Action for Health Kids and National PTA. It also pursues other kids’ programs with Boys and Girls Clubs and operates a grant application effort for local organizations that support youth wellness programs.

So how does Aldi tie all this into the in-store experience? Ruggles said the company makes sure that health and wellness is communicated throughout its merchandising and marketing. She pointed to the following initiatives:

  • Growing the selection of organic produce, including bananas, apples, tomatoes, avocados and salad mixes.
  • Healthier check lanes that “replaced the usual impulse treats like candy and chocolate with smarter options like single-serve nuts and trail mixes, dried fruits and assorted granola bars.”
  • Elimination of added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils from exclusive brand items.
  • Growth of three product lines: SimplyNature, which is free from more than 125 artificial ingredients; liveGfree, a gluten-free line; and Never Any!, a fresh meat line that eliminates additives.

These in-store programs aren’t just focused on food. For example, as part of its program called Aldi Finds, the retailer recently promoted merchandise that inspires shoppers to be active outdoors, such as kick balls, Frisbees, insulated hydration bottles cool gel shoe insoles and wireless bike computers.

Pursuing wellness efforts geared to kids helps set Aldi apart from the intense battles on the retail front. It’s a good reminder to all kinds of retailers that unique approaches to health and wellness are big differentiators in the marketplace.


David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker who was the longtime chief editor and content leader of Supermarket News. He is currently the principal of David Orgel Consulting, delivering strategic content and counsel to the food, retail and CPG industries. To read last month’s blog post, click here

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Report: Discount Drug Mart to be anchor tenant at former Giant Eagle location

BY Brian Berk

PLAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Discount Drug Mart will take over a long-vacant anchor space here at a former Giant Eagle location at The Shoppes of Oakwood Square, something that may give a big boost to the shopping center, reported Columbus Parent. DDM signed a 15-year lease to occupy about 30,000 sq.-ft. of space, the news outlet added.

“Our research has told us that we can find success there … and be of real service and value to the community. … We’re excited about the project. We think it’s a great spot for us,” Steve Ferris, government and public affairs director for the Medina, Ohio-based company, told the news source.

Once open, the store will represent DDM’s fourth in Stark County, Ohio. It is home to more than 52,000 residents.

Discount Drug Mart operates 73 locations, all of which have pharmacies. The retailer fills more than 5 million prescriptions per year.

To read more, click here.

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SLIDESHOW: Inside London Drugs’ first store with an optical clinic

BY DSN STAFF

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — London Drugs last week introduced for the first time a new full-service optical clinic into one of its locations in Vancouver’s Park Royal Shopping Centre. Drug Store News obtained some of the first pictures from the grand opening.

“Particularly in health care, our role in the health outcomes of our customers and patients continues to expand and evolve,” London Drugs EVP and COO Clint Mahlman said when the optical clinic opened. “Launching our first-ever optical clinic within London Drugs is another way we can immediately provide an important health care service.”

In addition to the new optical clinic in London Drugs, the newly renovated Park Royal London Drugs includes an educational Learning Lab, which was designed to create an engaging, open learning environment.

The Learning Lab will feature London Drugs experts who will offer workshops on topics ranging from health and wellness to technology, gadgets and sustainability. The Learning Lab will also be available for use by West Vancouver community groups, local educators and experts.

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