Aligning health goals with business goals is important in engaging convenience store retailers to promote healthy food initiatives, a new study suggests.
An evidence review by the Food Research Collaboration (FRC) based at City, University of London, found that strong ‘business case’ boosts engagement among retailers and strengthens it over time.
The study investigated three UK-based healthy eating initiatives involving convenience stores: two in London boroughs (Kensington and Chelsea and Tower Hamlets), and a national programme in Scotland.
“Evidence shows that well planned and adequately resourced interventions by public health workers targeted at convenience stores can help make food retail environments healthier,” the report said.
The study also noted the role of channels like trade associations, symbol groups and cash and carry wholesalers, particularly in identifying and recruiting retailers.
Several other factors identified by the research to promote engagement with retailers are: minimising work and keeping things free and simple, adapting the programme to each shop’s needs; and strengthening bonds between retailers and their communities through the programme.
“Basically, [the key thing is] building rapport with the retailers. And having a worthwhile proposition that you’re going to work with them, you’re not there to sell them something, you’re not there to dictate to them,” the report quoted a healthy food initiative programme staff as saying.