Do Groceries Belong on Pharmacy Shelves?

June 28, 2011

Experts say expanding food options could be a win-win solution for pharmacies, food manufacturers, and patients.

Experts say expanding food options could be a win-win solution for pharmacies, food manufacturers, and patients.

Public health experts’ advice to eat only fresh, healthy foods has drawn attention to the growing problem of “food deserts.” Among the garden variety of proposed solutions is one idea that could be mutually beneficial for pharmacies, patients, and food manufacturers: bringing more groceries to neighborhood drug stores.

Serving residents of these often underprivileged areas—by stocking pharmacy shelves with “small-box” grocery items—was just one of the many topics debated by industry leaders at a forum held June 26, 2011, at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Marketplace (NACDS) Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. According to NACDS, key retailers are already taking up the trend, "leading the way to add fresh foods, prepared meals, refrigerated foods, frozen foods, and more, in their urban store locations and for customer convenience throughout their vast network of stores."

The discussion, “Small Box Retailing Collaboration Track,” was facilitated through a partnership between NACDS and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and sought to identify ways retail pharmacies can partner with food manufacturers to help patients pursue healthier lifestyles. In 2 panels, the forum brought together representatives of General Mills, Hershey, Kraft, Navarro Discount Pharmacies, Rite Aid, and Unilever. Keynote remarks were made by food marketing expert Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer and shopper insights at the Nielsen Company.

Hale’s opening remarks were followed by the first panel, “Collaborative Opportunities in Health and Wellness,” which addressed tools, services, and products leading manufacturers and pharmacies are offering to help shoppers meet their goals for a healthier lifestyle. The second panel offered a broader look at how trading partners can collaborate to meet consumer demand for grocery options in drug and other small format stores.

With its collaborative focus, the forum embodied the spirit of the Marketplace Conference, said NACDS President Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and chief executive officer, echoed Anderson’s comments. “GMA and NACDS members share a common goal of helping consumers lead better lives,” she said. “Bringing them together in this forum will go a long way towards meeting this goal.”

For other articles in this issue, see:

  • Meeting Opportunity at the NACDS Marketplace
  • At Marketplace, Users Flock to Mobile Tools