Losing pounds, gaining pounds

Abdul Majid, Ross Kerr and Nicola Sturgeon

The market for healthier products is big business and is set to get even bigger as Scotland begins a major push to improve its collective diet – and convenience stores will once again be on the frontline, with pressure growing to offer more healthier options.

by Émer O’Toole


Following the establishment of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in 2015, the agency has wasted no time in making recommendations to the Government on how to improve Scotland’s diet. A recently published Situation Report (see p24) highlights that 65% of the Scottish population is overweight or obese, and to reverse this and begin to hit dietary goals that have been missed for the last 15 years, there needs to be a change in shopping habits. The FSS report discusses ‘discretionary’ products – such as soft drinks, crisps and confectionery – that are high in calories but low in nutrition, which means for convenience retailers, there is set to be an increased pressure to increase the number of healthier lines in-store.

Thankfully, big brands are working to reformulate many recipes, low calorie options are becoming more abundant, and perhaps most importantly of all, the SGF Healthy Living Programme continues to go from strength to strength, moving beyond fruit and veg and into a number of different categories.

Importantly, part of the current phase being undertaken by the Programme is to spread its message into categories beyond fresh and chilled. From cereals that contain under 5g of sugar per 100g and 0.68g salt per 100g, to a whole host of grocery lines from pasta and noodles to oven chips, baked beans and tofu – the development managers can advise retailers on how they can drive sales throughout their entire store.

Ross Kerr, Director of the Programme since its inception, says: “Retailers can gain from the benefit of signposting these products for their customers as well as including them in promotions. People are looking for the healthier option and if they cannot find them they will go elsewhere.”

January is the ideal time for retailers to refresh their low calorie offering as consumers begin their new year’s resolutions which tend to involve drinking less alcohol, being healthier or getting fit. Coca-Cola Life appeals to consumer demand for reduced calorie drinks and sweetness from natural sources. Rubicon Coconut Water contains only 17 calories per 100ml, which is 50% less than standard fruit juice. Lower sugar options are increasing within the energy drinks market and are set to be worth £200m in the next five years. Rockstar Pure Zero fulfils the demand for a low calorie option with zero sugar. Vimto’s ‘Try Me Hot’ squash, and Schweppes Sparkling Juice Drinks range are well-suited for consumers looking to cut back.

Amy Burgess, Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), says: “A good starting place is to look to the bottled water sector, which always sees a spike in popularity during the early months of the year as consumers are more health conscious. Sales are currently growing substantially, and as we hit dry January, this looks set to increase.”

In that area, CCE will be heavily pushing its glacéau smartwater.

In snacking, BEEFit has launched a range of high protein, sliced, spiced and dried beef biltong – the ideal choice for an on the go or post-workout snack.

Top tips for driving sales of healthier products

  • Locate your fresh fixture near the door, to increase perceptions of quality and grow sales
  • Use Point of Sale across the store to highlight healthier products
  • Work with an SGF Healthy Living Programme Development Manager to improve your offering
  • Focus on top selling fruit and veg lines
  • Work with local suppliers to boost your range of local fresh produce like eggs and meat
  • Ensure you offer low fat alternatives to popular lines such as milk, yogurt, and wholemeal bread
  • Introduce recipe cards and ingredient multipacks for soup and stews, for example
  • Cross promote categories to encourage customers to visit other areas of the store
  • Create a Healthy Mission fixture in your ambient section
  • Appoint a ‘Healthy Champion’ from your staff to ensure the areas within the Healthy Living Programme sections are always well-stocked and faced up