Technology

Instacart wants to make its customers healthier

The same-day delivery platform on Wednesday unveiled Instacart Health, a multi-faceted program focused on boosting sales of nutritious foods to a whole new customer base.
Instacart
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Instacart, which recently acquired a raft of tech companies as it reportedly inches closer to going public, is shifting its focus to a less high-tech concept: Health and nutrition.

The same-day delivery platform on Wednesday launched Instacart Health, what it’s billing as a “sweeping business initiative” focused on healthier living.

Instacart’s new program, with a debut tied to Wednesday’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, centers on increasing access to healthy food, providing tools for nutritious grocery shopping and offering a new platform for healthcare providers and caregivers to recommend and order groceries for patients and others.

“As a company at the center of people’s relationship with what they eat, we have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to do more,” Instacart CEO Fidji Simo said in a company blog post Wednesday. “We’ve seen firsthand via independent and partner research studies that online grocery delivery helps people get access to fresh food, adopt healthier eating habits, save time, manage their budgets and eliminate transportation and mobility barriers to nutrition.”

As part of the program, Instacart said it is expanding its EBT SNAP payment offering, which is currently available at more than 8,000 stores and 70 retailers. Instacart said it is now working with the USDA to incorporate SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) into their online platform, with a goal of expanding the benefits to all of Instacart’s grocery partners by 2030.

Next year, Instacart said it plans to allow shoppers to use TANF benefits to pay for essentials like diapers and toilet paper, along with service and delivery fees, which aren’t currently covered by EBT SNAP funds.

Instacart on Wednesday also rolled out Fresh Funds, a new program that allows any organization to give people money to buy food. Non-profit organizations, employers, health systems and more could give people an Instacart digital stipend that would be limited to certain food categories. Instacart will launch a Fresh Funds pilot program with Partnership for a Healthier America in the coming weeks, with plans to expand the program nationwide in 2023.

The delivery platform is adding a health-focused component to its new Carts program, partnering with health influencers and experts to share their digital shopping carts to give customers more ideas for healthy meal planning.

Also new is Instacart’s Health Tags, 23 item-level labels that provide information about the foods in the platform’s catalog.

“I have the unfortunate distinction of being a Frenchwoman with a gluten allergy, and our new Health Tags make it easier for me to find new gluten-free options,” Simo said in the blog post.

Instacart is also adding digital pop-ups to its app to highlight different diets, including vegan and low-sodium options.

Finally, Instacart’s new health program is reaching out to actual healthcare providers and their patients.

“We’re committed to building technology and supporting technology platforms that can help organizations scale their food prescription and nutrition incentive programs, reach more people and make it easier for patients to get the nutrition they need with the convenience of same-day delivery to their home,” Simo said.

Instacart’s new Fresh Funds program will work with public and private organizations to grow their “food prescription” programs, the company said.

Healthcare providers and caregivers can now order groceries on behalf of someone else with Instacart’s new Care Carts platform. The program might be used to deliver groceries and supplies to a patient who’s just been discharged from the hospital.

Dietitians will also have access to Instacart’s shoppable Lists to help create nutrition plans for their clients, the company said.

Instacart said it would work with policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders to pursue its new health policy agenda that focuses on modernizing food assistance programs, increasing the availability of nutritious foods to underserved areas and providing equitable access to health-tailored groceries.

“We look forward to inviting government leaders and every member of the Instacart community—from shoppers to customers to employees—to join us as we pursue this work together,” Simo said.

This story has been updated to accurately reflect the number of retailers participating in Instacart's EBT SNAP program. 

 

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