A volunteer grabs green squash for donation. Photo by Scott Ball.
A volunteer grabs green squash for donation. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

San Antonio-based H-E-B does a lot to help people identify healthy options in grocery stores.

H-E-B’s healthy marketing practices include marking food products with nutritional tags, adding “select ingredients” labeling for products made with no artificial ingredients, and offering many online nutritional and wellness information and activities.

But what else can grocery stores do?

Fruits and veggies are critical to helping kids grow up at a healthy weight. According to Salud America! research, access to and purchases of affordable healthy foods tends to improve when healthy food offerings are expanded and promoted in underserved communities.

But some grocers’ marketing, placement, and store designs nudge families toward unhealthy foods.

Salud America!‘s letter campaign asks members of state grocery store associations to review some overall strategies stores can implement to help families buy healthier foods, according to a report developed by more than 60 public health leaders, food retailers, and marketers.

People can sign the letter here.

The campaign also highlights recent healthy marketing changes made by food stores:

California-based Northgate González Markets is another good example of healthier marketing.

The chain launched bilingual healthy food labels and an entire marketing program aimed at helping customers make wise food-purchasing decisions as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Our goal is to become a portal for health,” said Northgate González Markets Health and Wellness Program Manager Teresa Blanco. “It’s something that we as a company believe in.”

Healthier marketing isn’t just good for consumers.

Last year, a report from the Hudson Institute found that lower-calorie beverages and foods – including fruits and vegetables ? drove the bulk of sales growth for supermarket chains between 2009 and 2013.

“We feel that marketing of healthy food options, especially fruits and vegetables, is a win-win for grocers and consumers,” said Amelie Ramirez, director of Salud America!, creator of the SaludToday social media campaign, and a professor at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. “People get better access to healthy options and grocers can increase sales of those options.”

Lisa Ellis-Veraza is a food critique and lover of all things dealing with food, faith, travel and health. She currently works for Salud America!, a university-based nonprofit that develops multimedia communications...