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Hy-Vee ‘cleaning’ up store brand products

Clean Honest Ingredients Initiative reflects consumer demand

Hy-Vee Inc. has announced plans to eliminate more than 200 artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals across 1,000 Hy-Vee label products by July of 2018. The removals include high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors and partially hydrogenated oils.

The move is part of the company’s Clean Honest Ingredients initiative. 

“Hy-Vee takes great care to provide our customers with authenticity and transparency when it comes to the products in our stores,” Jeremy Gosch, Hy-Vee’s executive vice president strategy and chief merchandising officer, said in a prepared statement. “As the demand increases for food products that contain natural, familiar and simple ingredients, we are doing our best to meet those expectations within our Hy-Vee label offerings.”

The modified products will bear the Clean Honest Ingredients logo. Some qualifying products are already present on the West Des Moines, Iowa, retailer’s shelves. These include Hy-Vee’s private label ketchup, almond butter, tortilla chips and bottled tea.

Hy-Vee isn’t the only retailer to clean up its private label products. Target also recently announced it was removing artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, colors, trans fat and high-fructose corn syrup from its line of house brands by the end of 2018.

The minimization of non-natural ingredients echoes significant domestic concern regarding what makes up food products, as well as the substantial popularity of store brands and private labels.

A recent study, the “2016 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health,” found that nearly half (47%) of those surveyed inspected the ingredients list of a given product to help them make a purchasing decision. Forty-nine percent also inspected an item’s nutritional value.

Both categories narrowly beat out brand name, which was only of importance to 45% of those surveyed. The No. 1 importance factor in decision-making was looking at the expiration date, with 71% of respondents selecting that choice.

The study also found that the most popular definition of “healthy foods” among domestic shoppers was a food that did not contain—or had minimal levels of—unhealthy components, suggesting that what a food was without was perhaps a more important driver than what it actually contained.

Clean label or otherwise, the Private Label Manufacturers Association found that nearly half of all consumers (domestic and international) “always or frequently” include a store brand in their basket during shopping trips in 2016. This resulted in about $150 billion worth of sales for the category.

Hy-Vee operates more than 240 retail stores across eight Midwestern states.

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Twitter: @DanAMX

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