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Instacart Dips Into Healthcare, Delivering Food as Medicine 

Instacart and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are teaming up to help more people access healthy food and tools for better health.  

The partnership’s goal is to back and extend initiatives treating food as medicine with programs, research, outreach and policies to improve health outcomes and equity in the U.S.  

They aim to educate the public on the therapeutic potential of food, enhance understanding of intervention techniques, and develop scalable approaches to reach more individuals and communities with successful food-as-medicine initiatives. 

“One of our shared priorities is to engage the public in understanding food is medicine. We seek to help accelerate interventions and build strategies to expand successful programs to more eligible Americans,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement

Why Education Helps Instacart

By promoting the connection between nutrition and health, Instacart can motivate consumers to make informed choices while conveniently accessing the groceries they need through its platform. 

With inflationary pressures affecting household budgets, consumers are more inclined to seek value and functionality in their purchases. 

Confirming this sentiment is a recent PYMNTS report that says grocery shopper strategies may outlast inflation

“After two years of persistent inflation, a more cost-conscious U.S. consumer has embraced these strategies, including cutting back on nonessentials, opting for cheaper brands or discount stores, or seeking out deals and discounts. Market analysts warn that some of these changes may persist after inflation has subsided,” PYMNTS said. 

Data from the PYMNTS Consumer Inflation Sentiment series shows that 57% of people are cutting back on nonessential grocery spending. Additionally, 47% are choosing cheaper grocery stores, and one-third are switching from their favorite brands, possibly trying private label products.  

Kroger, the largest U.S. grocery store, believes that this shift to private labels will lead to long-term customer loyalty, even as inflation goes back to normal levels. 

“During a more challenged economic environment … we do see more customers engage with Our Brands products, and as they start to see the quality and the value,” said Kroger Chief Financial Officer Gary Millerchip during a call with analysts. “And typically, it stays at a more elevated level even after the economic challenges have dissipated.” 

Shoppers who learn from Instacart’s educational initiatives can continue seeking value-based deals while leveraging the platform to discover the most favorable offers. Now, armed with enhanced nutritional knowledge, they can make purchases that are both budget-friendly and nutritious, adding a layer of comfort to their shopping experience. 

Dipping Into Healthcare

Though Instacart hasn’t made substantial investments in healthcare like other retail players, it is positioning itself as a front-runner in understanding the concept of food as medicine. 

In March, PYMNTS brought attention to the initial ventures of retail giants Walmart and Amazon into the healthcare sector, signified by the introduction of budget-friendly prescription services. Since that time, the two have been competing to secure a larger market share in the $808 billion healthcare industry, with healthcare clinics to prescription services and more.  

Read more: Dr. Amazon Will See You Now 

But it doesn’t stop with Walmart and Amazon.  

Other retailers have been staking claims in healthcare. Examples include ChewyPetco, and Petsmart, who have ventured into animal healthcare. This move comes as the pet adoption surge since COVID-19 has contributed to the booming growth of this industry. 

“People are still bringing pets into their family and at increased rates. And they are spending more,” Jonathan Wainberg, GM of Synchrony’s pet business, told PYMNTS in an interview

The essence of these references is to highlight the undeniable growth of the healthcare industry. Consequently, an increasing number of retailers, Instacart included, are discovering ways to establish a presence in this flourishing sector.