Walmart serves up fresh food loyalty program


BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart and HumanaVitality have developed a unique way to incentivize people to eat healthier while promoting increased customer traffic at Walmart stores.

The companies on Wednesday morning launched a first-of-its-kind program called Vitality HealthyFood, whereby Walmart offers a 5% discount on produce items to HumanaVitality members. The discount is loaded on a card in the form of a credit within five business days that can be redeemed on a subsequent trip to Walmart.

The program is set to begin Oct. 15 when the 5% discount becomes available on produce items bearing the recently developed "Great for You" icon, which, as the name implies, was created to designate foods that are part of a healthy diet. In the coming months, Walmart expects to apply the icon to select private-label products under the Great Value and Marketside brands that meet the Great for You criteria. The program is likely to be expanded to branded food items in 2013.

The effort is the first national program where a major retailer and healthcare company have come together to incentivize people to eat better through savings on healthier foods, according to Walmart.

"Price is an important factor in incentivizing wellness in America. By offering affordable, healthier foods, we will help make our customers healthier and reduce costs to our healthcare system as a whole," said John Agwunobi, president of health and wellness at Walmart U.S. He referred to the initiative as preventative care in its purest form, noting that Walmart wants to be a wellness destination for its customers and the retailer that, "provides them with affordable ways to fight for their health."

The initiative with HumanaVitality, a rewards-based program developed as a joint venture between Humana and Discovery Holdings, is a continuation of an effort Walmart began in 2011. That’s when the retailer unveiled a commitment to make healthier food affordable and accessible at a high profile event involving Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon and First Lady Michelle Obama. Walmart said by collaborating with HumanaVitality it is directly addressing the issue of making healthier food more affordable food, working to bring down the costs of healthcare in the U.S., and leveraging its size and scale to lead on big social issues that matter to Americans.

HumanaVitality CEO Joe Woods said the program, called Vitality HealthyFood, represents a new way to decrease America’s healthcare bill. A survey of Humana’s membership found that 84% said a savings program would motivate them to purchase healthier foods.

From Humana’s perspective, the program is launching just as open enrollment periods are set to begin for many employers.

"We will be aggressively communicating this program to more than 600,000 hospitals and physicians, as well as 60,000 insurance brokers to ensure as many members as possible can benefit from it," Woods said.

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