Waitrose Healthy Eating Specialist web

Waitrose’s new  Healthy Eating Specialist will direct customers to healthier food choices

Waitrose will be introducing 100 healthy eating specialists into its stores by the end of 2018, to help encourage customers to make healthy food choices.

The move is part of a range of health and nutrition initiatives to improve customers’ health, and the first 11 of the specialists will be in situ by next month. These partners are currently in training for their new responsibilities, which will teach them how to advise shoppers on how to read food labels and where to find reliable sources of nutritional information.

Once trained, they will direct customers to healthier food choices on a day-to-day basis and through organised shop tours.

Waitrose would not disclose the cost for this initiative, but confirmed the healthy eating specialists would not be trained nutritionists.

The supermarket’s health drive will also include its Beautifully Simple campaign, launching this week, which is a series of recipes designed to inspire customers to cook with a small number of fresh ingredients. A magazine, Waitrose Health, for those looking for new healthy food ideas and those aspiring to a healthier lifestyle, will begin publication on 26 April.

Waitrose is also embarking on the next stage of its personal nutrition consultations trials, including in its Basingstoke store - the first to be tested outside of London, and will increase health information for customers, including tips and inspiration in its publications and online. These cost between £35 and £75 and are made up of a personalised diet plan with recipes and healthy food provided. This is being expanded alongside advice and classes from experts, such as health and fitness vlogger Shona Vertue and former Olympian and sports scientist professor Greg Whyte.

Further initiatives are due to be launched by Waitrose over the coming few months. Waitrose would not divulge what these would entail.

The initiatives are debuting just as Waitrose has published its research revealing the public’s relationship with health and wellbeing. Over half (56%) of the 2,000 adults surveyed admitted they didn’t feel on top of their health, and 37% said they didn’t have enough time to focus on it.

Waitrose has already placed its new ‘Good Health’ mark on more than 1,600 lines to make it easier for customers to make healthier choices, in line with the finding that 37% of respondents said highlighting healthy options would help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. A similar figure (38%) would find it helpful to have clear labels on healthier food.

“Many shoppers have the best intentions to be healthier but busy lives get in the way,” said Moira Howie, Waitrose’s nutrition and health manager. “We know that small steps, top tips and nuggets of good advice can help them get started and importantly stay on track. Research shows that changes do not have to be radical to have a positive effect and can have a lasting impact on health.”

A Waitrose spokeswoman added: “Health and nutrition is a growing market and we know our customers are increasingly interested in this area. Our research also shows that people want extra help finding healthy products and information. Our healthy eating specialists, along with the other initiatives we’re launching … all aim to help customers make more informed choices.”