In reference to the "Nutrition Action Healthletter," November 2016 issue that included the article "Rigged! Supermarket Shelves For Sale," this post discusses current supermarket shelf space realities and potential ways to modify the system to be friendly for more food companies.
As a marketing and communications professional, grocery store shelf space is one of many places that food can be promoted to respective audiences. Similar to advertising, the shelf space is purchased. As a business professional, it is also understood that this gives companies with more money the prime shelf locations and more space. Looking at all this with nutrition expert eyes, it is also obvious that many of these types of companies are those with greater consumption convenience, i.e., packaged foods vs. whole foods.
With all that said, the question is, how are all these parties, plus the consumer, taken into consideration to provide a win-win situation for all involved. From a consumer standpoint, is convenience number one priority, or is it cost or nutrition or what's trendy or a mixture of all and more? Likely, priorities vary greatly between individuals; and even if perception survey's indicate otherwise, actions speak louder than words -- there is a reason certain food companies make more than others...consumers purchase more of those products.
Another question, which is highlighted in the "Rigged: Supermarket Shelves for Sale" video, revolves around not providing all options to consumers because not all companies can compete for the prime shelf space. About 33 or so minutes within the video, some recommendations are provided, including more regularions and inviting 'better-for-you' products to prime shelf locations without having them pay.
I can't say I am currently a fan of more regulations, but I do like the thought of more prime space available for companies with smaller marketing budgets. Other ideas, very similar to the previous idea but in marketing terms, could be to mimic the Public Service Announcement (PSA) concept and allow shelf space, signage and in-store announcements to be leveraged based on a specific criteria that would favor food companies with "healthy" or "whole" or "whatever criteria" products. This criteria will of course become the next debate, but that is a discussion for another time.