Business

Entire KTA Super Stores Chain Earns Blue Zones Approval

April 18, 2017, 11:00 AM HST
* Updated April 18, 10:36 AM
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KTA Kailua-Kona courtesy photo.

KTA Keauhou courtesy photo.

KTA Super Stores has successfully achieved a prestigious well-being standard that no other grocery store chain in the state has ever accomplished.

KTA Super Stores is the first organization in Hawai‘i to become Blue Zones Project approved as both a grocery store and worksite at all of its locations.

KTA is celebrating its last two stores in West Hawai‘i receiving  Blue Zones Project approval by inviting the community to enjoy free food samples, natural movement activities and grocery store tours at KTA Superstores in Kailua-Kona and Keauhou on Friday, April 21.

For more than a century, KTA has been a cornerstone of Hawai‘i Island’s local community. With six grocery stores, seven worksite locations and nearly 800 employees, KTA is one of the largest employers on Hawai‘i Island to become Blue Zones Project-approved.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative that encourages small changes in the places people live, work, shop and play. The recognition reflects the implementation of numerous evidence-based best practices nudging people toward behaviors that support longer, better lives.

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KTA has partnered with Blue Zones Project since its introduction to Hawai‘i Island in late 2015.

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“In just over a year, we have transformed all of our locations through simple changes that support well-being,” said Richard Chinen, vice president of store operations. “From store layout to the products we offer, healthy choices are easier at KTA. It’s good for our customers and associates—and good for business.”

All KTA locations now feature a Blue Zones Project checkout lane, which features healthy grab-and-go snacks such as fresh fruit and nuts rather than sugar-laden beverages and candy.

KTA also added a fresh produce display at the front entrance of each store and installed signage to highlight locally grown produce and foods inspired by the diets of the world’s longest living people.

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KTA delis offer half-sandwiches on whole grain bread with veggies instead of chips, and fresh-cut fruits and salads are labeled with serving size information.

Customers can also find free Blue Zones recipes, as well as parking signs that encourage them to park a little farther out to incorporate more natural movement in their day.

As a worksite, KTA provides on-site employee health fairs with plant-based cooking demonstrations, health screenings, natural movement activities, and health and wellness vendors.

In addition, stores established indoor and outdoor walking routes.

Signage in stairwells and break rooms includes positive messages to encourage employees to take the stairs, and relax and downshift on their breaks.

To improve social connectedness, KTA also started a Healthy Lunch With a Co-Worker program. Monthly “Salad Days” events feature different themes, such as Asian Salad, Harvest Salad, Acai Bowls and Peas on Earth during the holiday season.

“Participating in our Salad Days has encouraged me to add different types of healthy toppings, like fruit, to my salads, so I don’t get tired of eating the same thing all the time,” said Wendy Volivar with KTA Human Resources. “The original Salad Days became so popular that the wellness committees at all of our individual locations adopted the program.”

Since implementing Blue Zones Project practices, stores have seen a 10 to 30% increase in sales from Blue Zones-inspired food items, most notably in produce, fresh-cut fruits, salads in the deli, half-sandwiches with veggies, and brown rice sushi.

Brought to Hawaii through an innovative sponsorship by HMSA in collaboration with Healthways Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC, Blue Zones Project principles are based on lifestyles in Blue Zones, pockets of the world where people live longer with less chronic disease and higher quality of life.

KTA Keauhou is located in the Keauhou Shopping Center, 78-6831 Ali‘i Drive in Kailua-Kona.

KTA Kailua-Kona is located in the Kona Coast Shopping Center, 74-5594 Palani Road.

To learn more, contact the Blue Zones Project team in Hawai‘i at [email protected] or visit hawaii.bluezonesproject.com.

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