Convenience stores and retailers across Scotland were today urged to sign up to a successful scheme giving people better access to healthy food in their local communities.
The Scottish Grocers’ Federation Healthy Living Programme, backed by the Executive, encourages convenience stores and corner shops to promote fruit, vegetables and other healthier choices.
Stores participating in the programme, formerly known as the Neighbourhood Shops Initiative, show the healthyliving apple brand to highlight healthier choices and display fresh fruit and vegetables more prominently.
Health Minister Andy Kerr launched Stage Three of the programme today, which aims to roll out the programme more widely by developing promotions in stores, encouraging impulse sales of fresh produce and bringing in staff training.
Speaking during a visit to a Spar store in Blantrye, one of the first shops to sign up to this latest stage of the scheme, Mr Kerr said:
“I want every community in Scotland to have access to a local convenience store offering healthy, fresh food.
“The first two phases of the programme have been a resounding success, with 250 stores already signed up.
“And we know it works – 70 per cent of shoppers have said initiatives in their store had encouraged them to buy more fresh produce.
“The Spar I am visiting today is a great example of how businesses can tap in to the growing appetite for healthier foods, boosting sales as well as improving people’s diets.
“I would urge more stores and companies across Scotland to join the programme and help to make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone.”
The Blantyre store features mobile Healthy Living produce stands which are used to display seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.
Botterills, which owns 45 convenience stores across Scotland including the Spar store in Blantyre, has seen sales of fresh produce rise 19 per cent since joining the programme in 2004.
James Cochrane, Services and Distribution Director of Botterills Convenience Stores (BCS), said:
“Since the launch of the Healthy Living campaign, BCS has been 100 per cent behind the scheme.
“All stores now offer fresh produce and we have made significant investment in new refrigeration to display and sell fresh produce.
“We have noticed that our not-so-affluent stores have seen an increase in sales of fresh produce.
“The positive changes in-store are proving popular with customers and we will continue to ensure all our customers benefit from the availability of fresh produce and other healthy foods.”
John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said:
“We are pleased to be able to build on the efforts already made as part of the Healthy Living initiative.
“This programme will be at the centre of efforts to promote responsible community retailing throughout Scotland and we hope it will be the next stage in a long-term relationship designed to help improve the health of the nation.”
The Scottish Executive is providing funding of almost ?200,000 to Phase Three of the SGF Healthy Living Programme.
The programme was launched as a six-month pilot scheme in April 2004. In March 2005, Phase Two was launched involving 197 stores.
Participating chains include Botterills, David Sands Ltd, CJ Lang and Scotmid.
Phase Two of the project saw investment in equipment and refurbishment to allow retailers to move fresh fruit and veg displays to the front of their stores.
Under Phase Three, companies already signed up wil be encouraged to roll out the scheme to all their branches.