More than 100 convenience stores in the North East of England are now participating in the government's Change4Life healthy living campaign, and reaping the rewards of stocking a healthier range.
A recent evaluation of the campaign, which was launched in November 2008 with 12 stores, showed "incredibly positive results" a Department of Health (DoH) spokesman told Convenience Store.
Convenience Store has also learned that Landmark has joined the symbol groups already signed up to the scheme, which include Nisa-Today's, Spar, Costcutter, Mills Group, Premier and Musgrave Retail Partners GB.
Stores involved stock a much wider range of fruit and vegetables than before, and have a member of staff dedicated to championing healthy eating.
The scheme is also supported with eye-catching posters and signage to help educate consumers of the benefits of a more balanced diet and lifestyle.
Figures from the evaluation report show that the scheme is succeeding in changing consumer behaviour. More than a third of shoppers questioned in a survey said that they would buy more fruit and vegetables from their local shops in the future.
"The evaluation shows the scheme is proving to be an overwhelming success," the DoH spokesman said. "This is fantastic news for everyone - a boost to local customers' health and to shopkeepers' profits."
It is hoped that the scheme will roll out to other more deprived parts of the UK in 2010.
A recent survey by price comparison website MySupermarket.co.uk named the North East of England the unhealthiest part of the UK, with shoppers spending significantly less on fruit and vegetables and more on junk food than London and the South East.
❝ We've had two stores involved with Change4Life since last November. The great thing about the initiative is that it encourages stores to get involved with schools to ensure the 5-a-day message gets through. These stores are in deprived areas and since getting involved have seen an average rise of 38% in the sale of fruit and veg, so it makes business sense, too."
Costcutter trading manager and project manager for Change4Life initiative
❝ Change4Life started with a big bang and was really popular at first, and the store took significantly more on fresh fruit and vegetables. Sales are still good, although they have definitely declined from their peak earlier this year. It's incredibly hard to convince people to change their habits for ever."
Costcutter, Eston, Middlesbrough