Healthy Product Reviews: Give Dietitians What They Want

March 2, 2019

The Way to A Dietitian’s Heart — Food Samples

~Barb Ruhs, RD

It is well known that the retail environment, including product assortment and placement in the supermarket can heavily influence shopper behavior. Although category managers traditionally have served as the primary gatekeepers in the supermarket arena, dietitians are increasingly having an influence on the assortment of healthy products that appear on supermarket shelves. In fact, I wrote an article entitled, “Become A Greater Influence On What’s Sold In-Store,” for the November 2016 issue of Today’s Dietitian magazine to highlight these opportunities.

Savvy food companies, brands, and commodity boards are capitalizing on the powerful influence of dietitians by sending dietitian “toolkits” with product nutrition information, marketing materials, recipes and more. The most important thing to remember is that dietitians want TO TASTE THE PRODUCT!

Recently, I arrived home to a large, heavy box sent from a commodity board.  As I carried the box to my kitchen counter, I could hardly wait to open the box and dive into the samples enclosed in the box. To my surprise, the box was loaded down with hundreds of copies of recipe cards, nutrition materials, premium items (gifts) and a very, very small product sample. Although I got over the disappointment and posted my goodies on social media, it got me thinking about how to maximize RD engagement.

#1 Focus on Product Samples

It’s important for dietitians to taste your product. If the product can also be used as an ingredient and recipes are enclosed, supply enough product for dietitians to create at least 1-2 of the highlighted or recommended recipes.

#2 Make it Easy for RDs to Provide Feedback

Investing in sending a care package filled with goodies is great, but if you want to maximize that investment, make sure that you provide an easy and efficient method for RDs to share feedback, whether it’s vis-à-vis social media or a survey link. Provide relevant #hashtag, disclosures and social media handles so that RDs can quickly connect.

#3 Highlight Unique Nutritional Attributes

After attending the Produce Marketing Association’s annual Fresh Summit in 2018, I was excited to learn about Peatos ™ snacks.  A healthier version of Cheetos®, Peatos are made with peas and lentils to create a snack with an improved nutritional profile, including 4 g of plant-based protein, 3g of fiber and offering less sodium, fat and total calories.

As retail health expert, dietitian influencer and strategist, sampling new food products is vitally important to stay abreast of current food trends and learn the latest about nutritious products that may be appearing on retail shelves in the future.

Follow the blog and social channels for the hottest new food products and dietitian reviews.  

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Changemaker Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN, is transforming public health by re-envisioning the way food is understood and promoted. A seasoned supermarket dietitian and former Harvard nutritionist, Barb leads the way by offering innovative retail solutions that forge connections between food marketers, market RDs and consumers hungry for truth.


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