SUPERMARKETS MADE it increasingly clear this year that they're no longer just food retailers, but also food educators. More than two-thirds (68.3%) of retailers polled as part of SN's 2007 Survey of Center Store Performance said they planned to bolster their health and wellness positioning over the next 12 months by implementing nutritional shelf tags and signage. They also planned on doing so via newsletters and online information (36.6%) and health-focused in-store lectures (19.5%).
Supermarkets throughout the year became more active with in-store nutritional messaging. Hannaford Bros. Chief Executive Officer Ron Hodge said his Scarborough, Maine-based chain's highly regarded Guiding Stars nutritional shelf-labeling system is so effective that it may be licensed to other retailers.
The program has been lauded throughout the industry, and was even cited as a good example of why, after several years of sagging sales, dollar sales of key Center Store categories grew 3.1% in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 12, 2007, across food, drug and mass channels, including Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources Inc.
Hannaford revealed that foods which have a Guiding Stars rating are selling up to four times faster than those that don't.
Other retailers followed Hannaford's lead this year by launching shelf-tag programs. Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., introduced the Publix Nutrition Information Program. The initiative involves shelf tags displayed under better-for-you choices in various categories. Themed “Now You See It,” the labels include the carbohydrate count and up to four nutrition claims, such as low-calorie, low-fat or a good source of fiber.
Another new nutritional rating system was introduced by Topco Associates, Skokie, Ill. Called the Overall Nutritional Quality Index, or ONQI, the program incorporates 30 separate nutrient factors to generate ratings on a scale of 1 to 100.
Meanwhile, a large industrywide effort kicked off in the form of “Take a Peak,” from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute and Matchpoint Marketing.
Take a Peak is designed to help promote foods the government has determined are critical for a healthy diet in the MyPyramid food guidance system.
Once an individual product or brand gets approved for Take a Peak, it can be promoted with various Take a Peak in-store media tools, including shelf tags, coupons, floor graphics, in-store radio and direct-mail communications.
Publix, Giant Eagle and Raley's are among the retailers that brought Take a Peak to life this year.
Safeway will also use technology to help shoppers make more-informed food purchasing decisions. An interactive online tool called foodflex will present loyalty cardholders with a nutritional snapshot of past purchases, as well as food alternatives that may help them reach their unique nutritional goals.
Nutritional changes occurred at the manufacturer level as well this year. Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg's revamped its ready-to-eat cereal packaging by placing Guideline Daily Amounts from the Nutrition Facts Panel on the front of the package. The new GDA feature appears as a “Nutrition at a Glance” banner on the box top or upper right-hand corner of Kellogg's ready-to-eat cereal boxes. Four key measurements are displayed: calories, fat, sodium and total grams of sugar.