Health experts have been looking at ways to make convenience stores offer healthier food for sale to their communities.

The Food Research Collaboration, which is part of the Centre for Food Policy at City University of London, notes that convenience stores are at the heart of many communities in the UK and often they are the only option within walking distance.

However, they are not known for providing a great range of healthy food options.

In the interests of improving public health, the Food Research Collaboration is keen to make the case to convenience store owners that stocking and promoting healthier foods and snacks is worth their while.

In 2018, the Food Research Collaboration interviewed convenience store owners and public health practitioners to find out what works when it comes to getting convenience store owners engaged in healthy food provision.

The researchers found that providing businesses with support and advice for free as part of the programme was considered a win-win scenario. Some were given free merchandising kits to promote healthy products, and advice on how to increase their sales was appreciated. Minimising the work for the shop owner and keeping things simple were found to be important in ensuring engagement.

Building links with their community was also regarded a business benefit. They were able to attract new customers as well as keep existing ones close to home.

The researchers said, “It is important to understand that convenience stores exist in a very competitive environment and many have gone out of business over the last few years. People who run them are short of time and money, working in unstable conditions. Initiatives that want to be successful have to make sure that they make the business case to participating stores: there has to be something in it for them… The need to align health goals with business goals is key.”

Last reviewed 29 November 2019