Natural Foods Merchandiser

Retailer roundtable: Are you doing anything special to merchandise stevia products?

Wendy Pack, owner of House of Health in Winston-Salem, N. C.

I talk about the benefits of stevia to diabetics. A local doctor is promoting it to her patients through a weight-loss program; she is suggesting stevia and xylitol. Stevia is one of those products that is either liked or disliked, so I really like to pass out samples and to talk to customers about the benefits. In the summer, I take a leaf off the stevia plant growing outside our door, and give it to people to try. Fifty percent of my customers like it and 50 percent don’t, so I’d rather give them a sample to try than have them walk out with a box of something they don’t like.

Niki Young, owner of Green Earth Health Food Store in Middletown, Wis.

We aren’t doing anything special at the moment but we are telling people that it’s a form of sweetener that doesn’t have any negative effects. We are also telling them how to use it when cooking by using part stevia with other sweeteners, such as honey.

Pam Hay, owner of Nature’s Pantry in Bellevue, Wash.

We have a good-sized section for stevia in the store. There have been times that it’s been on a promotion of sorts. I usually tell customers that I like that stevia comes from a natural herb. I like to use it in tea or I’ll put it in water and over my grapefruit. It is sometimes too concentrated, which makes the granules nice. The packets travel well. We haven’t gone into a lot of baking with stevia yet in the kitchen, but would like to.

Leslie Hammer, owner of Good Health in Harrisville, Utah

A lot of my customers are on the HCG diet [a regimen in which a person works with a doctor to get the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone injected daily to lose weight] and I can’t keep [stevia] in stock. I have to order [stevia products] a couple times a week. The diet lasts six weeks and they can only take 500 calories a day. I guess they like the flavored stevia in their water because it adds some spice to their diet, considering what they’re eating is so bland. I guess I should run an advertisement that I have stevia—then I really wouldn’t have it in the store.

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