UNC-Chapel Hill Grocery Consumer Demand Project

Establishing Partnerships with Food Retailers to Conduct Local and Healthy Food Choice Research

Authors: Molly De Marco, PhD, MPH; Leah Chapman, MPH; Nasir Siddique.
Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention and Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill / December 2016

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Food retailers can and should be seen as vital partners as we work to develop local and regional food systems and increase the consumption of nutritious foods. In this brief, we provide insights and strategies for establishing research partnerships with food retailers. This brief represents accumulated insights from researchers working with the Center for Environmental Farming System’s North Carolina Growing Together project, and researchers working with the SNAP-Ed program; the Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research (BECR); and the Regional Nutrition Education, and Obesity Prevention Center of Excellence for the Southern Region (RNECE-South). Combined, researchers involved with these projects have conducted food retail interventions for 5 years with over 20 different corporate and family-owned retailers.

The Local Loyalty Project: Can Positioning a Regional Grocery Chain as a Purveyor of Local Foods Increase Customer Loyalty and Local Foods Sales?

lowes farmstand

Molly De Marco, PhD MPH, Beth Hopping, & Kemp Watson-Ormond / Fall 2014

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In 2014 a team of researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill began work with NCGT’s grocery retail partner to test the impact of different store messaging around “local foods” on consumer loyalty and shopping behaviors. From their baseline surveys at the 3 control and 3 test stores, the team identified the following: 85% of respondents agreed that the target grocery store supports local farmers and food producers; 70% agreed that shopping at the target grocery store directly impacts their community’s local economy; 67% agreed that shopping at the target grocery store supports farmers in their community; 63% agreed that the store is an important part of their community; 61% agreed the store connects community members with local farmers and food producers; and 60% agreed that the target grocery store makes local food a priority. Subsequent in-store messaging is being conducted in test stores and then shopper perceptions will be re-evaluated.

Local Food Perceptions and Shopping Behaviors In Rural North Carolina: A Novel, Retail-Based Approach for Promoting Health?

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill graduate student Beth Hopping published her dissertation research on the intersection of health and local food in grocery settings in 2016.

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Holding Successful “Meet the Farmer” Events — Assessment and Recommendations

Holding successful

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This document begins with a summary of the potential that local food holds for increasing grocery store sales and the role that events such as “Meet the Farmer” events play in cultivating a store image that reflects a commitment to local producers and the local community. It then outlines the methods and analysis of the assessment and makes recommendations for stores to hold effective “Meet the Farmer” events.

Authenticity and Success in Marketing “Local” — Review and Recommendations

Research brief retailer

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Previous research and the experiences of other initiatives around the country indicate that strong and transparent in-store promotional materials that communicate a package of characteristics including value/affordability, freshness/quality, and direct social impacts can increase local food sales. This document highlights specific findings that should inform authentic and successful store marketing initiatives.