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Editor's Note: Is retail display regulation needed?

Fiona Robinson, Associate Publisher / Editor
by Fiona Robinson
November 01, 2012

How many times have you been at a supermarket checkout counter and reached for a king-size package of peanut butter cups because you were starving and the candy was cheap? Maybe if you were on a diet you told yourself you’d only eat half of it, but in fact you ate the whole thing as soon as you got in the car. According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Candy at the Cash 

Register — A Risk Factor for Obesity and Chronic Disease, the point-of-purchase impulse buys and clever display marketing at U.S. supermarkets are hidden risk factors for chronic diseases and should be regulated to mitigate the public health risk. 

I applaud NEJM’s recognition that consumers are barraged by many products that have no nutritional value much like the strategically placed candy or soda by the checkout counter. But regulation of supermarket marketing strategies will never happen. 

Manufacturers pay high slotting fees to supermarkets for these product placements; products that for the most part are made cheaply and have high profit margins. If supermarkets cared about their customers’ health they wouldn’t put such emphasis on sugary fatty foods. 

I implore retailers who do care about their customers’ well being to put healthful products such as fruits, vegetables or ready-to-heat seafood meals at the end-of-aisle displays and near the registers. If a small fridge full of energy drinks and soda can be shoved in next to Star magazine then surely a small fridge or freezer with ready-to-heat seafood items would work. These would have to be items that are easy to cook and have popular flavor profiles — products with shrimp salmon or a whitefish would surely sell. Or what about crab cakes? These products are popular, easy to heat and are expanding in flavor profile, according to our Special Feature written by Assistant Editor Melissa Wood (click here to read more). After all, if retailers help to reduce chronic diseases their customer base would live longer and potentially spend more money at their stores. 

On a lighter note it’s my pleasure to welcome Sean Murphy as online editor of SeafoodSource.com, our sister product at Diversified Business Communications. You can view Sean’s background and picture in the People column on page 44 of our print or ePub issue. The seafood editorial team at Diversified works closely together on a variety of content from news stories to webinars to trade show conferences and we look forward to showing Sean the ins and outs of this dynamic industry. 

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