SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Hannaford Bros. Supermarkets plans to link its new myHannaford online shopping tool to health insurance companies' customer reward initiatives, SN has learned.
Under a pilot slated to kick off in the second quarter, several yet-to-be-named insurers would reward customers who buy healthy foods at Hannaford by giving them free gift cards for products that earn Guiding Stars, according to Julie Greene, Hannaford's healthy living director.
Discounts on monthly insurance premiums are also being discussed. As proof that they're buying healthy foods, customers would print out their shopping history via myHannaford and send it to their insurance company.
Hannaford's insurance initiative comes at a time when Safeway plans to link its new FoodFlex tool to employee health insurance premiums. FoodFlex is a personalized online food and nutrition tool that delivers a nutrition analysis of food purchases made with loyalty cards. Safeway has said that it plans to reward employees with premium reductions this year if their FoodFlex reports show that they're buying healthy foods.
Meanwhile, about 7,000 customers have already joined myHannaford since the March 8 launch of the online resource, which allows customers to create a custom shopping list based on their dietary preferences.
Available via a link on the Hannaford.com  website, myHannaford provides side-by-side comparisons of foods' nutritional value, along with their Guiding Stars rating and price. Guiding Stars is a nutrition navigation system that rates products that have been determined to have good, better or best nutritional value with one, two or three stars, respectively.
MyHannaford lists Guiding Stars ratings for all items that receive stars; not all products meet Guiding Stars criteria. “MyHannaford allows shoppers to take advantage of all the information in our Guiding Stars database,” Greene told SN.
While Guiding Stars ratings already appear on shelf tags and select private-label packaging, myHannaford is another resource, she said. “This gives people another view of Guiding Stars. It's like a custom flier that's just for them.”
Along with providing Guiding Stars information, myHannaford lets customers personalize, save and print store-specific shopping lists that screen out foods in 13 categories, including peanuts, added sugars, wheat, gluten and egg. The list can be sent via email or accessed from a mobile phone.
So far, the majority of people who use myHannaford are doing so to get information about Guiding Stars, followed by information on foods without high fructose corn syrup and items that don't contain partially hydrogenated oils, said Greene.
Though it's most helpful to shoppers with special dietary needs, myHannaford will be a valuable resource for anyone looking to make more nutritious food choices, said Greene.
“It helps people find foods that are most meaningful to them,” she said.
Before launching myHannaford, the retailer studied other online nutrition tools in the food industry, including Ahold's Peapod NutriFilter, which lets customers screen out dairy, gluten or other foods or ingredients they may not want in their diet. MyHannaford differs from NutriFilter in that it is not an e-commerce site, but only an online guide.
As part of the myHannaford launch, the company is conducting in-store sampling of Guiding Stars products. Likewise, all shoppers who sign up are automatically entered to win a $50 Hannaford gift card or a free nutrition consultation.