CVS Expands Healthy Grab-and-Go Initiative

Drug-store chain devoting more space to convenient, better-for-you snacks, foods

CVS Gold Emblem abound healthy snacks

WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- When drug-store chain CVS stopped selling tobacco products in late 2014, it turned out to be a boon to convenience stores and other retailers of tobacco. Now CVS is following up with another initiative that might prove to be the opposite.

CVS is expanding its assortment of healthier snacks, foods and beverages in more than 2,900 stores nationwide. The new store layouts have a broader assortment of better-for-you foods in an expanded refrigerated section and more prominent displays of healthful foods and grab-and-go snacks, making healthy snacking more convenient, according to the company.

During 2016, each week, the company will enhance 100 stores with a “curated selection of national and niche better-for-you brands that make healthier eating on the go convenient and affordable,” it said.

Expanding this initiative beyond the initial 500-store pilot launched in 2015 is a critical step as the company continues to evolve into a “health destination.”

“Since becoming the first and only national pharmacy chain to end the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products, the No. 1 thing we’ve heard from our customers is the desire for healthier food options,” said Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business. “This year, we are continuing to expand the assortment, volume and shelf space dedicated to better-for-you foods and snacks offered in our stores nationwide to make healthier snacking easier and more convenient for our customers.”

CVS stores around the country are stocking more than 250 fresh, refrigerated and nonperishable healthy foods and beverages from brands including Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown, Chobani, Vita CoCo, Bai, Krave Jerky, Rhythm Superfoods and That’s It bars, as well as new products from the CVS private-label line, Gold Emblem abound, which are all free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors.

In addition to the 2,900 stores that will stock a wide assortment of healthful foods by the end of the year, another 360 stores will receive significant additional enhancements to the layout of food, beauty and over-the-counter health products, the company said.

Beginning this summer, CVS will dedicate approximately 25% of front checkout space, traditionally occupied by candy, to better-for-you snacks including Kind bars, Larabars and Vega One bars.

Niche products that support trending dietary preferences including paleo, raw and vegan are also being introduced in select CVS locations this year. Initial trends include paleo displays including Epic 100% grass-fed bison bars and Gold Emblem abound organic black chia seeds. The chain will showcase raw foods during the summer, including picks from Go Raw bars, Emmy’s Organics and Two Moms in the Raw. In the fall, a vegan showcase, featuring Larabar Bites, Kashi Teff Thin Crackers and GimMe Health Food Seaweed Snacks, among others, will be available in select locations.

Healthy deals of the week and personalized email offers serve as reminders that making healthier choices can be affordable, the company said. Its Fit Choices shelf-tagging program also increases consumers' ease of finding healthier items in store by clearly identifying foods that fit nutritional and dietary preferences, including Good Source of Protein, Heart Healthy, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified.

Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, is a leading U.S. retail pharmacy with more than 9,600 locations.