As food and drug retailers strive to promote health and wellness, Walmart is giving consumers some incentive to make better choices in the grocery aisles.


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Retail News Breaks Archives

Walmart incentivizes healthier food purchases

September 19th, 2012

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – As food and drug retailers strive to promote health and wellness, Walmart is giving consumers some incentive to make better choices in the grocery aisles.

The discount store giant and partner HumanaVitality, a subsidiary of health insurer Humana Inc., on Wednesday unveiled a national program, called Vitality HealthyFood, that offers shoppers savings for purchases of more-nutritious foods.

Starting Oct. 15, more than 1 million HumanaVitality members who shop at Walmart will be eligible for 5% savings on products that qualify for Walmart's Great For You icon, including fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy items. HumanaVitality, a joint venture of Humana and Discovery Holdings Ltd., rewards members for making healthy choices and achieving wellness goals.

According to Walmart, the effort represents the first national program in which a major retailer and health care company have united to give people incentive to eat better by offering them savings.

"Price is an important factor in incentivizing wellness in America. By offering affordable, healthier foods, we will help make our customers healthier and reduce costs to our healthcare system as a whole. This represents preventative care in its purest form," John Agwunobi, M.D., president of health and wellness at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "We want to be our customers' wellness destination — the retailer that provides them with affordable ways to fight for their health."

Vitality HealthyFood is available at all Walmart stores. After accepting terms and conditions at HumanaVitality.com or Humana.com, and taking a brief HumanaVitality Health Assessment, consumers will receive their Vitality HealthyFood card for 5% savings on items with the Great For You icon. When a member goes to Walmart for their grocery shopping, the savings will be loaded as credits to each member's card within five business days for use on their next trip.

Plans call for the program to be available initially to over a million HumanaVitality members and be expanded to additional members early next year.

Walmart's Great For You icon is designed to help customers easily identify healthy food items at its stores. Items with the Great For You icon must pass a two-step nutrition criteria process. The icon is available in the produce section at Walmart stores and will begin to appear on packaged Great Value and Marketside items beginning this fall, the retailer said.

"Americans have told us they are trying to eat better and need help making healthier food choices. Our Great for You icon helps customers find those choices, and this program represents a new model for how we can make those choices even more affordable," stated Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability for Walmart U.S. "We will continue to make affordable, healthier food a priority so American families don't have to choose between food that is good for them and food they can afford."

Walmart and Humana cited recent research showing that many consumers are finding it difficult to afford healthier foods, with one in four families saying the skip more nutritious food purchases often or always due to price.

The retailer added that the Vitality HealthyFood program continues an effort it began last year with First Lady Michelle Obama. Leveraging Walmart's scale, the multipronged plan aims to help make food choices healthier and more affordable by reducing sodium and sugar in packaged foods, improving nutritional content, implementing pricing initiatives, effecting more efficient sourcing, and hiking support of nutrition programs and healthy food education.

"The Vitality HealthyFood program with Walmart represents a new way we can decrease America's health care bill," commented Joe Woods, chief executive officer of HumanaVitality. "In a recent survey of our members, 84% said that a savings program would motivate them to purchase healthier foods. We will be aggressively communicating this program to more than 600,000 hospitals and physicians, as well as 60,000 insurance brokers to ensure as many members as possible can benefit from it."

In October 2010, Walmart and Humana launched a co-branded Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that they billed as carrying the lowest national monthly premium in the country. And earlier this year, Humana's pharmacy benefit management unit began offering employers a new option in which they could get up to 20% savings on the average prescription price if they use both Humana's new Rx4Value formulary and the Walmart Rx Network.

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