Change 4 Life support to convenience stores
In 2008, the Department of Health introduced the Change4Life convenience store pilot programme in England, which aimed to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables (FFV) in deprived urban areas in the North of England by providing convenience stores with support and point of sale Change4Life branded materials and equipment. It was a partnership between the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Department of Health (Department of Health, 2010).
The programme aimed to:
- Increase access to and availability of FFV in deprived areas with little or no access
- Increase sales of fruit & veg (F&V) by focussing on improving the range merchandising, quality and communication in stores
- Drive awareness of F&V to consumers through sign posting within retail stores facilitating the C4L brand (Department of Health, 2010)
DH produced a retail guide, DVD, training guide and tips on how to manage F&V categories as well as advice on displaying F&V in prominent positions and maximising impact, storage, waste management, promoting seasonal items and promotional cards (Department of Health, 2010). Seventeen Development Stores received intensive support (including 50% of the cost of chill cabinets from DH) and 74 Roll-Out stores (which received less intensive support).
A 2010 DH published evaluation assessed qualitative feedback from consumers, sales data and direct feedback from participating retailers with some promising results. Customer perceptions of quality, selection and visibility of stores’ F&V of the stores in general improved (with higher increases in the Development Stores).
The Development Stores study found that significantly more shoppers (57% up to 73%) claim to be eating fruit or vegetables most or every day 7 months after the start of the project. Increases in F&V sales at around 6 months in the intervention range from 6%-480% with an average increase of 143%. Three stores experienced an increase in sales despite a decrease in overall sales. Roll-Out Stores sales increases were less consistent and smaller than Development Stores. However, self-reported purchasing increased initially after the project launch then fell away, whereas the sales data indicates a general increase over time.
The evaluation concluded that the project helped to overcome some of the common barriers to access fresh fruit and vegetables by:
- Offering a wide range of good quality fruit and vegetables
- Displaying fruit and vegetables in an appealing / hard-to-miss way
- Stocking fruit and vegetables customers want to buy, and
- A place to buy fruit and vegetables
However, an independent mixed-methods process evaluation in 2012 (Adams et al., 2012) that mapped the sites of the stores and did 74 in-store observations and 10 qualitative interviews with professionals purposively sampled found that intervention fidelity (adherence) was low (e.g. use of the promotional materials and branding) and the intervention was unlikely to have had a substantial or long-term effect on customers’ consumption of fruit and vegetables. This study suggests that to successfully sustain a programme: new materials are needed and ongoing support is required.
Adams, J., Halligan, J., Burges Watson, D., Ryan, V., Penn, L., Adamson, A. J., … Williamson, P. (2012). The Change4Life Convenience Store Programme to Increase Retail Access to Fresh Fruit and Vegetables: A Mixed Methods Process Evaluation. PLoS ONE, 7(6), e39431. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039431
Department of Health. (2010). Change4Life Convenience Stores Evaluation Report. 04 Oct, 34. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/215984/dh_120801.pdf