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Drugstores Selling Produce in Food Deserts: This Has to Work, Right?

3p is proud to partner with the Presidio Graduate School’s Managerial Marketing course on a blogging series about “sustainable marketing.” This post is part of that series. To follow along, please click here.

By Adrian Assassi
We have all heard about food deserts: those dreary, downtrodden, typically inner-city places where it is easier to buy hard drugs than a fresh apple. Grocery stores won’t locate there and corner stores stick to what they know best: junk food, alcohol, and other not-so-fresh dietary items. Residents in these communities must travel far and wide to find anything fresh to eat. Ultimately, many find themselves giving in to the convenience of locally available canned and fast-food more often than they should.

Not surprisingly, the diet-related health of many food desert dwellers is showing the wear of poor dietary habits and has prompted many to find a way to simply allow these people access to fresh food.

Enter Walgreens and RiteAid to save the day. (It sounds strange, I know).

These two drugstore titans have apparently been listening to the howls of the nutrition community and fresh-food starved citizens of our country’s food deserts. Their solution? Start selling fresh produce in their drugstores! This turns out to be quite logical in fact, since drugstores already occupy many of the food desert areas. There is a demand and need for fresh produce in food deserts, Walgreens and RiteAid are located nearby and selling fresh produce means problem solved!...right?

Well, we still have yet to see since this venture is quite new. Also, a complicating factor that drugstore patrons need to be convinced that on the way to the register to pay for their prescription and flu shot they should grab a bunch of bananas and a head of cabbage. The ability to couple food trips and medical trips together could prove to be more difficult than RiteAid and Walgreens are hoping for. Customers may wonder: is this produce alright? What does a drugstore know about fruits and vegetables? And are these fruits and vegetables as safe as the canned ones?

Walgreens and RiteAid must carefully consider their customers ingrained thinking in regards to what one purchases at a drugstore and how they can send a resonating message to people that buying fresh produce from their businesses is a good idea.

Want to learn more about Presidio and this project? Click here.

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