In every aspect of our lives it seems revolutions are underway, particularly around how and what we consume. As our waistlines and our healthcare bills get bigger, so does our desire to seek out healthier foods.

A recent study made headlines telling us our jobs are making us gain weight because of the increase of availability of unhealthy snacks at work. (Yeah for donut day – boo for tight pants). But it’s not just our jobs that put temptation in our path.

In fact, one of the most obvious temptations we face multiple times a week is the checkout aisle. The checkout has historically been one of the most profitable sections of the entire store. This location is prime real estate that has the shoppers attention for 2-5 minutes and creates the opportunity for impulse purchases.

In fact FMI reports that these impulse purchases drive over $5.5 billion of food, drink and non-food sales at checkout every year. And considering the prominence of candy, snack foods and sugary beverages the calories add up and so do profits. It is estimated that checkout sales account for only 1% of total sales but 1.3% of total store profits.

Not only is this real estate coveted by retailers, its coveted by brands. Candy manufacturers note that only 2 of 3 shoppers will visit the candy aisle, but every shopper will visit the checkout line. Add to that product placement fees and you have a recipe for sales success for the retailer.

But like all good things, this too must change and consumers are sharing their feedback. In a study conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest they found that 35% of respondents strongly agreed and 45% of respondents somewhat agreed that they would prefer to have more healthy options at the checkout. But it’s not just public health groups taking notice in this consumer shift. At the recent Snacks and Sweets Expo, The National Confectioner’s Association (NCA) rolled out new checkout lane merchandising options and information as part of their Always a Treat Initiative. Examples on the show floor helped buyers understand options for incorporating healthier products into their checkout aisles.

What the NCA shared with attendees was data from several test stores that indicated that item diversity at checkout that included more healthy options increased total impulse sales by 8.4% and also increased candy sales by 2.5%.

Today’s consumer segments want healthier choices, but they still want indulgence. They don’t want to be policed and told what they can or can’t have. They aren’t going to give up candy, but they will add healthier snacks to the mix – be it protein snacks, cheese, juices, yogurts, fresh fruit and more.

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