Responding to shifting customer behavior, SpartanNash is stepping up a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency.
Called the Clean Ingredient Initiative, the effort has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in the grocery distributor’s Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, including the removal of synthetic colors, MSG and other ingredients. SpartanNash said another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019.
According to John Paul, vice president of private brands at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists and clean, easy-to-read labels.
“Consumer preferences are changing, and our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table,” Paul said in a statement. “Our Clean Ingredient Initiative provides them with exactly that, all while giving them the quality, budget-friendly savings and great taste they’re used to with Our Family and Open Acres products.”
To help customers identify products that have undergone Clean Ingredient reformulations or package redesigns, these items now feature “clean” labels with key attributes listed on the front. For the Our Family brand, which includes more than 1,700 products, clean labels are highlighted with leaf icons, while a circular swoosh is used for the Open Acres fresh food brand.
“The icon system on Our Family and Open Acres packaging is designed to draw our store guests’ attention to the highlights of each product, calling out fat-free, gluten-free, non-GMO and other key product attributes,” Paul explained. “Through the Clean Ingredient Initiative, we’ve made it easier than ever to identify the private brand products that fit our customers’ healthier lifestyles so they can make quick, informed decisions at the shelf.”
For example, Our Family ice cream now has four SKUs that contain just four or five ingredients, including milk, sugar, cream and the flavoring, SpartanNash said. The company noted that it also has partnered with manufacturers to remove MSG from some Our Family soups, while Our Family fruit and grain bars have been reformulated to eliminate synthetic colors.
To support the Clean Ingredient Initiative this year, SpartanNash has enlisted Our Family spokeswoman and cookbook author Molly Yeh, who stars in The Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm,” to spotlight products that have been reformulated — such as yogurt, mac and cheese, and ice cream — and tie them into in-store and online promotions.
A number of industry studies have shown rising consumer preference for minimally processed food and beverages and more transparency into product ingredients and manufacture. In the Food Marketing Institute’s 2019 “Power of Health & Well-Being in Food Retail” report, 73% of consumers polled said they’re concerned about food and beverage nutritional content. Shoppers reported they want more information about food product ingredient sourcing (48%), country of origin (46%) and manufacturing processes (38%), as well as on product claims such as no preservatives (22%), no artificial ingredients (22%), no added hormones (20%), natural (20%) and non-GMO (20%).
Along with its core retail grocery and military distribution businesses, SpartanNash operates 159 supermarkets, namely under the Family Fare Supermarkets, Martin’s Super Markets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market banners.