ALBERT LEA, Minn. — Hy-Vee has replaced sugary snacks in a single checkout lane with foods consumed in so-called Blue Zones — places in the world where inhabitants are longest-living and happiest.
The lane is an offshoot of the AARP/Blue Zone Vitality Project, brought to Albert Lea, Minn., to add 10,000 years to residents' lives.
Since the lane's January launch, soy nuts have emerged as a favorite (sales spiked 60%), while fresh apples and oranges often go untouched, said store dietitian Amy Pleimling. But it's not because consumers don't like fruit. Sales of Hy-Vee brand no-sugar-added dried peaches have shot up 63%.
Humdrum sales of carrots, yogurt, skim milk and water sold from a Pepsi-branded case are also improving now that a “Blue Zones” sign reminds shoppers not to miss its contents. “Normally you don't look in there unless you're going for a pop,” Pleimling said.
Launching the lane was a challenge since contracts entitle certain brands to the space. But Pepsi agreed to share 50% of its refrigerator. Its Aquafina water and zero- calorie SoBe Lifewater fill the other half.
Hy-Vee created scan codes so that it can sell Fiber One bars and cups of pomegranate sauce, individually. Spoons are positioned nearby.
Though the healthy lane is in pilot phase, Pleimling is hopeful it will expand chain-wide. “Sales are going to be the ultimate decider, but its image is one Hy-Vee strives to portray,” she said.