Whole Foods launches online search tool for special dietary needs

Whole Foods Market has added a fresh feature on its website for the new year, allowing customers to find products via a special dietary requirement search tool.

Shoppers on the US version of the Amazon-owned retailer’s website can now search for and filter tens of thousands of products through the lens of several different dietary preferences – from vegan to Paleo- or Keto-friendly. The function is available via the desktop computer and mobile versions of the site.

A statement from the retailer said that the latest addition to its eCommerce offering enables customers to research food options and verify availability at their local store.

The full list of searchable preferences includes: vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, Paleo-friendly, Keto-friendly, sugar conscious, dairy free, Kosher, organic, Whole Foods diet approved, Engine 2, low sodium and low fat.

“Whole Foods Market has always been a go-to for those who follow special diets or want greater transparency into what they are eating,” explained Jason Buechel, executive vice president of technology and CIO at Whole Foods.

“This new experience makes it easier than ever for those customers to find products that fit their needs from dietary preferences to lifestyle changes, and ultimately helps them achieve their wellness goals.”

Once a search has been made for the special dietary requirement items, customers will find a photo of the product, its nutrition fact panel and ingredients list, and diet and allergen tags.

Supermarkets on both sides of the Atlantic are continuing to increase the number of special dietary products they sell to cater for growing consumer demand. The number of vegans in the UK for example, has soared to around 3.5 million in the last few years, and retailers are shaping their assortments accordingly.

In keeping with demand for these products, Greggs launched a vegan ‘sausage roll’ this week, with the company gaining a widespread positive response on social media for its reaction to TV presenter Piers Morgan’s inflammatory online remarks about the product.

Meanwhile, Tesco announced a partnership with tech company Spoon Guru in 2017 to help its customers with special dietary needs easily find food suitable to them when shopping online.

When shopping online, Tesco customers can filter their food searches via intolerances such as lactose or nuts, or specific dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan, low fat, and low salt. Items are then displayed using Spoon Guru’s special dietary needs-focused algorithms.

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