• Play
  • Recently Played

K-LOVE’s Positive People: Grocery Owner Disrupts Food Industry, Wants Healthy Choices

Monday, April 15, 2019

K-LOVE News – by Richard Hunt   (Want to hear our interview? Podcast)

Health experts have major concerns about the foods we eat. Wrong foods and ingredients are a major cause of obesity and related debilitating problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.  

Wanting to make a difference and disrupt the status quo in the food industry is Mike Teel. And he has a powerful platform as the owner of Raley’s, a grocery chain with more than a hundred stores in western states.

One of the first areas of concern Teel tackled: too much sugar.

He instructed his stores to place sugar-laden cereals on the bottom shelf, a place Teel describes as, “the death zone in the grocery industry.”

At shelf eye-level, Teel’s stores are featuring more-wholesome, less-sugary cereals. Teel says they’re seeing favorable results, adding, “If a customer still wants to buy that product, they still can. We’re not trying to force them to make a decision. We’re just making it a little more difficult. And we’ll do that in other categories in the store in the future.”

Before taking action on cereals, Raley’s had already eliminated soda pop and kid-magnet candies from the check-out lines.

To help customers with food content awareness, shelf guides have appeared in aisles of stores, with color codes explaining terms like minimally processed, gluten free, no sugar added, and matching the icons to products. 

In addition, individual labels, like the one below, caution shoppers that a product may contain much more “added sugar” than other options available. They don’t use a skull and crossbones, but the point is made. 

As far as a negative sales hit from all these changes, Mike Teel explains, “I wouldn’t say it’s costing us, because what I think it’s doing is building brand image, that we are there to be an advocate for the consumer and we care about your health. We want to position ourselves as a trusted advisor in this area and this does that for us.”

Teel cheerfully acknowledges he wants to disrupt the grocery industry. He is challenging food makers to offer healthier products by way of an ongoing series of YouTube videos called, “Minute with Mike.” The short segments share with consumers his research about what’s in certain products, and what’s not. He wants to raise healthy awareness among shoppers.

Teel freely admits that on the retail side of not-so-healthy foods, “We were part of the problem and I wanted to be part of the solution.”

In addition to his passion about wholesome food, Teel, who is a very successful business person, offers suggestions for young people considering what they want to do with their career path. You can hear that on our podcast - and also learn about Teel’s own career experience that began with “pushed carts” at age 14. He also shares how he veered away from the family business for a while, eventually coming back with acquired wisdom and renewed interest. All on our one-on-one podcast.

2019 K-LOVE News/All Rights Reserved