Thursday, March 20, 2008

Grocery stores get in on the Health claim making game

Food retailers hope to inspire loyalty, increase sales with their own nutritional labels Supermarket chains ready their own nutrition labels Food..

Full-fledged rating systems so far have caught on only at regional supermarket chains such as Hy-Vee. The only up-and-running system was rolled out in 2006 by a New England chain, Hannaford. But the industry's giants, the companies that own Chicago's biggest chains, Jewel and Dominick's, will keep a close eye on the Hy-Vees and Hannafords of the world. The growing importance of health in marketing food will force them to. "We know that close to 60 percent of shoppers are actively incorporating health and wellness into their food-purchasing decisions," said Jim Hertel of Willard Bishop, a supermarket consulting firm. "This is a fairly significant number of shoppers. It's not just the Birkenstock crowd."

Yet shoppers are bewildered by competing health claims; that's what Hannaford found when it surveyed consumers before launching its rating system, developed by independent academic nutritionists. Katz, an internal medicine specialist, said he found the same thing with his own patients and blamed part of the problem on food packaging. "A lot of what is on the package is about marketing, not about informing people." For instance, breads can sport the appellation "multigrain" and still be made with processed flour, not whole grains. Meanwhile, breakfast cereals, while touting high fiber, sometimes contain more salt than items in the salty snack aisle, Katz said. And to make claims like "one-third" less sugar in a breakfast cereal, foodmakers, in order to maintain taste, sometimes have boosted salt or saturated fats, he said.

Fascinating article. We have Hannafords around here but I have never bought groceries there. This makes me want to check them out. I'm curious about numbers on the 100 calorie packs.

I'm not sure that another layer of information is going to inspire some brand loyalty as the tittle suggests however. The grocery store still comes down to price and convenience for me.

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