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Starting Aug. 10, customers at Loblaws stores in the Canadian province of Ontario will be able to take advantage of "Guiding Stars." Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw Co. Ltd. is the first Canadian grocery retailer to launch the nutrition navigation program.
Designed to complement existing nutritional data, Guiding Stars, which originally rolled out at New England Hannaford stores in 2006, scores food based on nutrient density using an objective scientific algorithm grounded in the most up-to-date dietary guidelines and recommendations of national regulatory and health organizations.
“Guiding Stars has strength in its consumer-friendly translation of current dietary recommendations that are based on science,” said Alison Duncan, professor, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph and a member of the program’s scientific advisory panel. “This means that consumers can rely on the Guiding Stars program to provide them with quick and accurate guidance about the nutritional quality of the food choices they are making.”
In-store research conducted last month by Vancouver, British Columbia-based VisionCritical from the first phase of the program rollout in the greater Toronto area revealed that eight in 10 customers liked the program, considering it clear, easy to use and helpful to their decision-making.
“One in three Canadians shop at our stores each week, and we work really hard to ensure we meet their priorities, including helping them make informed decisions about healthier food,” noted Michael Lovsin, SVP, health and wellness at Loblaw Cos., as well as a member of the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel. “Offering in-store dietitians and programs like Guiding Stars are ways that Loblaw is working to empower our customers to make healthier choices.”
Currently, 50 Loblaw banner stores offer in-store dietitians year-round, with a special Guiding Stars Dietitian Day slated to take place at select Ontario stores on Saturday, Aug.11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On that day, customers will receive hands-on instruction from dietitians on the program, as well as finding out about healthier food options and simple ways to prepare them.
Loblaw also offer a number of better-for-you food options under the PC Blue Menu brand, whose newly designed packaging makes it easy for consumers to quickly identify nutritional benefits, with plus and minus symbols calling out the nutritional attributes of each product. The chain further offers President’s Choice Cooking School classes showing how to prepare healthy meals, and has established partnerships with the Canadian Diabetes Association and Hypertension Canada.
Loblaw Cos., a subsidiary of George Weston Ltd., is Canada’s largest food retailer, operating 1,000 corporate and franchised stores across the country, and employing more than 135,000 full-time and part-time associates.