I was recently asked on a personalized nutrition panel I participated on, whether retailers should have a microbiome zone. Firstly, I didn’t even understand the question as it’s not a term generally used in Europe, but the moderator kindly explained what it meant. The reason for the question is rather valid in view of the heightened interest in the microbiome and it’s role to immunity and overall health. It didn’t take me long to answer as it is quite a clear-cut “no”. What we know to date about the microbiome is that a diverse diet, a diet high in fiber polyphenols and wholefoods is essential to a healthy microbiome in addition to adopting healthy behaviours such as getting adequate sleep and being active. Therefore, compartmentalizing in-store foods into a "zone", may completely ignore the important role other foods play in shaping a healthy, strong and diverse microbiome.
One of the examples I gave is that frozen and even tinned, or pre-cut vegetables are usually given a hard time because of unsubstantiated claims that they are not “as good”. This is utter rubbish and there is no reason why you cannot use frozen spinach instead of fresh in a soup or casserole, however you are unlikely to find them right next to each other in a “zone”.
We should also not forget that many culturally diverse foods are also good sources of nutrition, diversity and inspiration, and so we should not be restricted to one food zone or "cuisine" alone.
Here are some practical tools retailers can use to help shoppers get their microbiome into top shape:
- Leverage technologies – by getting your entire product database tagged and enriched, means shoppers can easily find products using an app to select products that are higher in fiver, lower in sugar, free from emulsifiers, higher in platnt based ingredienst or polyphenols etc
- Provide digital tools to assess the healthiness of their shopping basket
- Provide personalized rewards to incentivise shoppers to swop to healthier products
- Provide meal plans, recipes and cooking demo’s in-store to help customers get inspired
- Provide holistic and personalised wellness solutions in store such as wellness kiosks, personalized supplements as well as meal kits
- Have experts such as in-store dietitians give shopping tours- this approach has shown to increase customer experience and increase basket size
As more consumers are reading labels, manufacturers can make sure that product information is available on their websites in a language and format they can understand.
For more information about how you can offer a more personalised nutrition & wellness to your shoppers to help develop a healthy microbiome, do get in touch!