Meijer jumped into the deep end of the health and wellness pool when it recently added an extensive line of private-label organic foods to the grocery aisles, and cutting-edge devices for cardio and cholesterol monitoring in store pharmacies.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supercenter chain rolled out 160 products — everything from minestrone to ice cream — under the new Meijer Organics label. Ultimately, 200 items will round out the offering. In keeping with the retailer's focus on low prices, the organic items are priced below comparable national brands. In some cases, the Meijer product stands alone, with no national-brand equivalent offered on the shelf.
All foods bear the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic seal to assure shoppers of the products' authenticity, said Shari Steinbach, corporate lead dietitian and healthy living advisor.
“We feel that's very important,” she said. “We're not just saying it's organic.”
Meanwhile, the pharmacies in February introduced diagnostic devices to appeal to consumers monitoring their heart health. The chain carries a “CardioChek” analyzer and blood sampling test strips that measure total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. All are from Polymer Technology Systems. Not your everyday purchase, the handheld analyzer retails for $119.95. To sweeten its appeal, officials may add additional test strips that can be used with it, said Jackie DeBruler, pharmacy buyer/merchandiser and a registered pharmacist at Meijer. The retailer sells strips by the box, with each box containing enough strips for three complete blood tests. Boxes retail for $12.99.
Meijer has offered in-store cholesterol screenings since 2003, so the products are a logical addition to the retailer's extensive pharmacies. With 176 supercenters in the Midwest, Meijer competes with Kroger, Target and Wal-Mart. The pharmacies compete with Walgreens and other top drug store chains, so having the latest health equipment helps, DeBruler said.