In the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry, RD usually stands for Route Driver. However, in the age of health initiatives and corporate wellness, the acronym can also stand for Registered Dietician. These RDs are popping up more and more as consumers shifts to a healthier eating focus. Locations are also hiring RDs as resources for their employees. Should our industry too take a closer look at the RD and hire them to aid in product procurement or even creation, as well as be an additional value to the customer?
What is an Registered Dietician?
As the name suggests, RDs are certified and must meet specific criteria in order to be called a RD. In brief, an RD must complete a bachelor's degree in a nutrition science field, an internship and a national examination, according to Nutrition Science Degree. RDs differ from nutritionists because the title nutritionist is not as regulated, therefore anyone can use it, without having to first prove they studied and attained the proper knowledge.
When a RD works for a retailer, their role is different than when they work with end users. A recent article in Today's Dietitian talked about how more and more convenience stores were hiring RDs to help them reduce calories, sodium, saturated fat and increase whole grains in a retail environment. Having RDs in the process was having a noticeable impact on sales from reformulating items to which items were offered in the store to better meeting the wants of consumers. This intrigued me. I asked a few operators if they had RDs on staff. Only one said yes, although a few others had access to one "if needed" via a relative or acquaintance. Some operators relied on the RD of their food supplier or that the location would hire one.
USConnect has long offered the services of a RD when a company joins the group. The RD also posts videos geared towards end users, providing cooking, snacking and exercising tips.
Should you have a RD onstaff?
I wonder if we are missing some opportunity here. Perhaps a combined role of product management and registered dietician? In areas with strong competition from convenience stores, would RDs offer strategies to increase the availability and recognition of nutritious foods? Plus, it still has the benefit of helping the location. Perhaps this person can give traveling healthy presentations, offer on-site samples, or post helpful information to social media. Is this another service operations can offer so the location doesn't have to have a RD on site, the way that some companies like an on-site attendant or barista for at least part of the day supplier by the operator? Do you have a registered dietician on staff?