Availability of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-authorised retailers’ voluntary commitments to encourage healthy dietary purchases using marketing-mix and choice-architecture strategies

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AbstractObjective:To examine public commitments for encouraging United States consumers to make healthy dietary purchases with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits among of prevalent SNAP-authorised retailers.Setting:National SNAP-authorised retail landscape in addition to stores located in California and Virginia, two states targetted for a Partnership for a Healthier America pilot social marketing campaign.Participants:SNAP-authorised retailers with the most store locations in selected settings.Design:A review of retailers’ publicly available business information was conducted (November 2016–February 2017). Webpages and grey literature sources were accessed to identify corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports and commitments describing strategies to encourage healthy consumer purchases aligned with the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Evidence was organised using a marketing-mix and choice-architecture (MMCA) framework to characterise strategies used among eight possible types (i.e. place, profile, portion, pricing, promotion, priming, prompting and proximity).Results:Of the SNAP-authorised retailers (n 38) reviewed, more than half (n 20; 52·6 %) provided no information in the public domain relevant to the research objective. Few retailers (n 8; 21·1 %) had relevant CSR information; grey literature sources (n 52 articles across seventeen retailers) were more commonly identified. SNAP-authorised retailers in majority committed to increasing the number of healthy products available for purchase (profile).Conclusions:Substantial improvements are needed to enhance the capacity and commitments of SNAP-authorised retailers to use diverse strategies to promote healthy purchases among SNAP recipients. Future research could explore feasible approaches to improve dietary behaviours through sector changes via public–private partnerships, policy changes, or a combination of government regulatory and voluntary business actions.

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Public Health Nutrition

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