Fully Integrated Retail Programs at Nearly 3,000 Grocery Stores During American Heart Month Lead to 17% Lift in California Walnut Sales

FOLSOM, Calif. – The California Walnut Board celebrated American Heart Month in February 2019 with an expanded, fully integrated retail marketing campaign, driving an impressive 17% increase in unit sales for walnuts across participating markets. 

Retail programs focused on promoting the heart health[1] benefits of walnuts and targeted three key markets, including Sacramento, Denver and Richmond, VA. Several retailers also chose to implement the program beyond the target markets and supported California walnuts chain-wide, including Food Lion, Safeway NorCal, Save Mart, Sprouts and Raley’s.

Participating walnut brands realized unit sales increases between 110 to 1,080 percent, as a direct result of the program.

“We are thrilled with the results of our 2019 American Heart Month campaign, which builds upon the success of the 2018 program results. We credit our exceptional retail partners who played such an integral role in this year’s program,” said Michelle Connelly, Executive Director of the California Walnut Board.

“Looking ahead to 2020, we plan to build on the program’s momentum by expanding nationally, in what will be the largest retail program to date for California Walnuts during American Heart Month.” 

Additional key highlights include:

  • Sacramento: Compared to February 2018, walnut unit sales were up 95 percent at Raley’s, 12 percent at Safeway and 11 percent at Save Mart. The success of the program resulted in a participating walnut brand securing year-round distribution in Safeway’s produce department, as opposed to compared to only seasonal sales. 
  • Denver: Walnut unit sales were up nearly 17 percent at Safeway, with a participating walnut seeing a 110 percent lift in unit sales, compared to February 2018.
  • Richmond: A three-week walnut promotion at Food Lion drove significant dollar and unit sales increases for the entire store across the full five-week period measured. Walnut unit sales at Food Lion were up 32 percent and a leading walnut brand saw an impressive 1,039 percent lift in unit sales compared to last February. Given these program results surpassed sales achieved in the busy December timeframe, this brand secured year-round distribution in Food Lion’s produce department.
  • Additional retailers who participated in Heart Month programs: Mollie Stone’s, Price Chopper, Redner’s Markets, Tom Thumb, Jewel Osco, Albertsons, and Pavilions.

Walnuts are a heart-heathy[1] food, certified through the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check program[2]. They are unique as the only nut significantly high in essential omega-3 ALA (2.5 grams/ounce).   Researchers have investigated the nutritional benefits of walnuts for more than two decades, with a significant number of projects evaluating benefits related to heart health.

These key attributes make walnuts an ideal food for heart health promotions.

The success of these retail programs was driven by:

  • In-store tactics such as point-of-purchase displays, display contests, audio ads, shelf signage, header cards, stanchion signs, value-added offers, content in retailer publications and social media channels.
  • Advertising in-market, which included retailer-tagged spot television and radio, along with digital advertisements
  • Integrated activities with retail dietitians through educational in-store demos and Facebook Live videos under the Albertsons banner, as well as e-newsletters, blog posts, social content, and a shopper mailer with Price Chopper.

California Walnuts initiated a fully integrated marketing campaign around American Heart Month in 2018, starting with two test markets in Charlotte and Minneapolis. This year, the program expanded to Sacramento, Denver and Richmond with plans to expand the program nationally in 2020. Interested partners can contact Don Ladhoff, Retail Program Coordinator for the California Walnut Board, at [email protected].

About the California Walnut Board

The California Walnut Board is a federal marketing order, established in 1948 to represent Growers and Handlers in promoting the consumption of walnuts in the United States.  Among its responsibilities, the Board conducts consumer marketing programs, production/post-harvest research and regulatory/trade management. To learn more, visit walnuts.org.

Non-Discrimination Statement

The California Walnut Board (CWB) prohibits discrimination in all programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance programs. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the CWB offices at (916) 922-5888. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). CWC is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

The California Walnut Board offices are located at 101 Parkshore Dr., Ste. #250, Folsom, CA 95630

[1] Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.

2 Heart-Check Certification does not apply to scientific research by an organization other than the American Heart Association, unless expressly stated.