Nutritious choices replace typical checkout food.
WRITTEN BY ANDREA THOMPSON
ILLUSTRATION BY LILY THERENS
Who isn’t susceptible to the impulse buy in the checkout line? Without it, how else would tabloids survive? Unfortunately, though, when we repeatedly fail the test of willpower and indulge in those cheap snacks, the results can be broken diets, empty calorie consumption, and, over time, a decline in one’s health. One local supermarket chain is looking to help its clientele make better, healthier choices at the check stand.
Last November, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores began moving some commonly found items from easy-to-reach areas in checkout stands to lower, harder-to-reach rows or even out into the store aisles. Away went sodas sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup and some candy bars. In their place went water and teas, granola bars, protein bars, and candies containing clean ingredients. The company’s initiative, called Better for You check stands, is making it easier for shoppers to make healthier, more nutritious choices when growling tummies (or tugging children) are screaming for snacks.
A smarter store
Store leaders found that more and more customers were concerned about health. So in an effort to share the company’s vision of infusing life with health and happiness, they began improving their customers’ shopping experience in 2015 by eliminating tobacco products from their stores. Last year, the Raley’s branded sodas, which contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors, were removed. And, recently, stores have begun to offer free fruit for children to eat while shopping.
Chelsea Minor, Raley’s director of public relations and public affairs, says that the changes are part of a long-term plan for the 80-year-old brand.
“Raley’s is currently on a wellness transformation,” Minor says. “We want to educate our customers on how to make more informed decisions when purchasing food.”
This idea came from the executive team, which realized that the front check stands are where compulsive food choices are made. So far, the customer response has been good.
“Our best-selling new item at the front end is Justin’s Peanut Butter Cup,” Minor says. “We’ve found that when you increase the number of options, people gravitate more to the alternative options.”
Minor says to stay tuned for more changes ahead in Raley’s stores.
“We are working on elements to help customers make informed decisions at the shelf,” she says. “We know there are lots of choices in any given category. We want to make it easier for customers to find the best options for their individual health.”
Don’t worry: The old, less-healthy choices are still available in the stores. But if you have to satisfy a craving for a 100 Grand Bar, you might just have to burn a few extra calories to go get it.
Andrea Thompson holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She’s been a line cook, a recipe tester, the former manager of the test kitchen for Williams-Sonoma’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco, a food columnist for Sacramento Business Journal, and former editor of edible Sacramento. She sits on the board of Les Dames D’Escoffier’s Sacramento chapter and resides in downtown Sacramento.