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Measure of the Consumer Nutrition Environment is Associated With Food Sales

      Objective

      Explore the influence of the consumer nutrition environment on food purchasing behaviors of Quebec’ food shoppers.

      Design, Setting, and Participants

      A tool designed to assess the consumer nutrition environment was created based on previous literature and nutritional issues in Québec (Canada). The tool was used to evaluate 17 supermarkets in 3 low-to-medium income neighborhoods in the city of Montreal.

      Outcome Measures and Analysis

      The shelf space (length), variety and price of fruits, vegetables, chips, sodas and frozen entrees were measured. Quality was assessed for fresh fruits and vegetables. Nudges designed to encourage purchase of fruits and vegetables (FV) or high energy density foods were also observed. Purchasing data were obtained from the Portail de l’environnement bâti, available at https://www.inspq.qc.ca/environnement-bati/accueil.

      Results

      A greater variety of FV per store was positively associated with increased fresh, lightly processed (canned, frozen, ready-to-eat) and total FV sales, and inversely associated with chips sales. The number of places occupied by FV in the stores and nudges towards their purchase, such as strategic in-store positioning, was also positively correlated with greater sales of fresh fruits, but not vegetables. Shelf length dedicated to frozen entrees was associated with higher sales volume of these foods. The ratio of shelf length dedicated to FV vs high energy density foods and a higher retail price for frozen entrees were both negatively correlated with frozen entree’ sales volume.

      Conclusions and Implications

      A broader understanding of the consumer nutrition environment and its influence on food purchasing behavior may contribute to the development of strategies targeting dietary habits.

      Funding

      Canadian Institutes of Health Research

      Supplementary data