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    IGA, Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover Fortify the USDA's MyPyramid Challenge

    Industry support is growing for the government scheme to support healthier eating.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid Corporate Challenge is gaining further momentum, as Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Giant Food, LLC joined other food retailers and trade groups to participate in the store-based campaign, and grocer alliance IGA USA said it will blend the MyPyramid Challenge into one of its major marketing programs in 2009.

    "At Stop & Shop/Giant Food, we readily accept the challenge to help our customers live a healthy lifestyle, because the supermarket plays an important role in providing healthful food choices," said the chains' consumer advisor Andrea Astrachan of the company decision to get involved. "Because millions of customers shop our stores weekly, we have a unique opportunity to share the core messages of MyPyramid right where purchasing decisions are made."

    The Ahold banners will provide such messages to consumers as "Vary Your Veggies" and "Make Half Your Grains Whole," as well as encouraging customers to use the new interactive tools on MyPyramid.gov, including the MyPyramid Menu Planner and MyPyramid to plan menus and track their daily intake.

    Meanwhile, IGA said it will introduce its own Hometown Healthy Challenge next year as part of its marketing lineup. The campaign will encourage IGA shoppers to recognize and experience MyPyramid's "Steps to a Healthier You" platform, through a MyPyramid consumer education sweepstakes with fitness-oriented consumer prizes.

    Mark Batenic, IGA USA's c.e.o., said the decision to incorporate the MyPyramid platform was in direct response to consumers' growing focus on health and wellness, and IGA retailers' desire to provide healthy lifestyle solutions for their customers.

    "The event's focus on balanced diet and exercise gives our retailers a vehicle for promoting a healthy lifestyle among their shoppers," said Batenic.

    Progressive Grocer reported yesterday that the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute, and Pittsburgh-based MatchPoint Marketing had also become official USDA MyPyramid corporate partners, with the goal of getting more retailers and manufacturers to participate in the "Take a Peak into MyPyramid" program, which promotes the government's nutrition education program in supermarket aisles.

    Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop/Giant Food employs over 82,000 associates and operates 575 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine,
    New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

    As the world's largest voluntary supermarket network with aggregate worldwide retail sales of more than $21 billion per year, IGA includes nearly 4,000 Hometown Proud Supermarkets worldwide, supported by 36 distribution companies and more than 55 major manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers.

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