CVS shifting away from unhealthy candy and soda in favor of healthier items

CVS has decided to dramatically slash the amount of space it devotes to junk food and soda just three years after it stopped selling tobacco products. The country’s biggest drugstore chain has been making a series of positive moves that reflect the increasing trend toward health consciousness sweeping the U.S. as increasing numbers of stores and restaurants displace conventional food in favor of organic options.

CVS will renovate its stores to devote more floor space to foods that are nutritious, particularly near the checkout line. Healthy foods will be moved toward the front of its stores, and around a quarter of the space at checkout will be dedicated to healthier snacks. They will also add new “Trend Zones” that will focus on healthy eating trends like raw, vegan and paleo. Shelf tags will be expanded to clearly delineate dietary preferences, such as “gluten-free”, “organic”, “non-GMO project verified” and “sugar-free.”

While CVS will still sell candy bars, soda and other junk food, 100 feet of aisle space in each store will be shifted toward products like natural supplements, nutrition bars, and makeup that does not contain any harmful ingredients.

The changes have already been introduced at 800 of the chain’s 9,700 stores, and they have been paying off so far; sales at the renovated locations have risen by 2.5 percent on average. This could help turn the drugstore chain’s fortunes around after non-pharmacy sales took a big hit when they stopped selling tobacco.

Other items that will get more shelf space are those related to improving sleep, taking care of skin, and eating healthy on the go. CVS Senior Vice President Judy Sansone says the new offerings are a response to the shift among American consumers from three big meals per day to five smaller ones.

A total of 27 new healthy food items will be added to CVS’s Gold Emblem Abound line of products. This line features foods like nuts, snacks, and drinks that are free from preservatives and artificial colors. Last year, they cut partially hydrogenated oils from their store-brand foods in a first for national drugstore chains.

Better vitamins and cosmetics options

CVS has also revealed that most of its growth in cosmetics has been coming from new, independent makeup brands that offer healthier alternatives to the makeup found at shops like Ulta and Sephora. CVS’s own store-brand products from lines such as Essence of Beauty, CVS Health, Promise Organic, Blade and Beauty 360 will be getting rid of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, parabens and phthalates.

CVS is also outlining new standards that will require third parties to test the ingredient listings of their vitamins and supplements. They will also start screening them for “ingredients of concern” that have yet to be specified.

Hundreds of CVS locations will have the new format by the end of next year. The move to cut down on junk food is a logical follow-up to the decision to cut cigarette sales. After all, obesity is more dangerous to your health than smoking. A study out of the U.K. found that people with a body mass index that is higher than 45 can expect to live 13 fewer years than average, while being a smoker reduced life expectancy by just 10 years on average.

If this move is well-received by consumers – and early results from stores that have made the change are extremely promising – it’s possible the store could shift even further away from sugary treats toward healthier alternatives.

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