Agreements between small food store retailers and their suppliers: Incentivizing unhealthy foods and beverages in four urban settings

Melissa N Laska, Lesley Schmidt Sindberg, Guadalupe X. Ayala, Heather D'Angelo, Lucy A. Horton, Kurt M. Ribisl, Anna Kharmats, Christina Olson, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Small food stores, like corner stores and limited assortment stores, often sell and promote unhealthy foods and beverages. Yet few studies have examined retailer participation in contracts or agreements with suppliers of energy-dense, high-sugar, and high-fat foods and beverages. Given that these agreements may influence the placement and promotion of unhealthy products, this study aimed to: (a) describe incentive-based agreements between food/beverage suppliers and small food store retailers, including monetary value of incentives; (b) assess retailers’ perceptions of these agreements, including issues related to importance and profitability. Both qualitative (open-ended) and structured interviews were conducted with 72 managers of small stores in four sites: Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; and San Diego, CA. Interviews focused on incentivized agreements with suppliers of candy, salty snacks, sweet snacks, sugary beverages and frozen desserts. On average, retailers had 1–2 agreements per product category (range 0–5). For candy, salty snacks and sweet snacks, median one-time, lump-sum incentives were valued at $100–$120 for each product category, in contrast to $2000 for sugary beverages. Incentives included product displays, free/discounted products, marketing materials, and slotting payments/fees. Perceived advantages of agreements included rebates and suppliers’ support for product merchandizing, while disadvantages included minimum purchasing and product placement requirements. Retailers had mixed opinions about whether these incentives significantly contributed to profits overall. In summary, understanding the nature of these agreements and the ways in which they influence retailers’ decision making could be valuable in advancing efforts to partner with retailers and improve the healthfulness of food environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-330
Number of pages7
JournalFood Policy
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Convenience stores
  • Corner stores
  • Food and beverage suppliers
  • Food retailers
  • Food systems


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