Every major supermarket chain has made room for healthy and organic offerings in one way or another. But with its disparate coast-to-coast banners, no one is as well-placed as Supervalu in marketing of health and wellness at the local level.
“The American consumer is fast becoming the largest purchaser of natural and organic products in the world, and this means that we will be right there with them,” said company spokeswoman Haley Meyer.
Indeed, Supervalu is busy on several fronts. A new “premium fresh and healthy” model has started giving stores acquired from Albertsons last year a colorful facelift. There's more produce, gourmet and other healthy offerings, all positioned to stimulate the senses. With competition now expanding to include not only other supermarkets, but fast-casual restaurants like Applebee's and Ruby Tuesday's as well, doing this is a way to stay ahead by accentuating what a grocery store does best.
“The lighting levels come down to create some drama, the floor is very neutral and doesn't have any fancy patterns or tiles,” said Tom Ertler, creative director with WD Partners, the design firm that developed the new floor plan with Supervalu. “It's all about accentuating the food. The food is the star.”
Supervalu also gets credit for expanding other names in its far-flung portfolio of banners. Last July, the retailer opened its largest Bristol Farms unit, in San Diego. Covering 27,000 square feet, the store features an array of fresh meat, seafood and organic offerings. It is also upgrading select bigg's stores in the Ohio region and adding health and wellness components, as well as specialty and gourmet elements.
“I think it's an interesting twist, and it also shows that channels are starting to blur,” said Natalie Berg, retail analyst with London-based Planet Retail.
And, of course, there's Sunflower Market, Supervalu's value-priced natural and organics chain. The nascent operation grew by adding three locations — two in Columbus, Ohio, and one in Chicago — bringing its total to four stores. The company has stated it wants to open 50 Sunflowers over the next four years.
Although many are skeptical of this goal, no one argues the impact of this first-ever, stand-alone natural and organics banner from a mainstream operator.