You are here
As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gears up to roll out its newly revamped Nutrition Facts label, industry leaders remain at odds over whether the changes will actually make a difference in encouraging American consumers to make healthier choices.
Regardless of proposed portion-size adjustments, the addition of macronutrients and other label changes, the fact is that consumers are turning packages over and reviewing labels – especially ingredient lists – more than ever before. As a grocer, here are five things you should know to satisfy consumers’ desire for greater transparency in labeling and ingredients:
- Transparency is important. Heightened awareness surrounding allergies, sensitivities, digestive intolerance and chemical additives is driving consumers to look for short lists of “pronounceable” ingredients that appear to be devoid of chemicals, artificial ingredients, fillers and other undesirable attributes. Aside from the ingredients list, physically transparent packaging is also enticing, allowing customers to see exactly what they’re getting – such as a granola bar that’s clearly just nuts and fruit – as well as helping them compare product quality and value.
- Going beyond the hype. Consumers are also becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to looking beyond front-of-package callouts to make sure the ingredient list supports those claims. “Natural” is no longer enough; that claim needs to be defined by specific details, such as “minimally processed,” “no added hormones” and “no rBST.” “Free from” continues to be an attractive call out for consumers, encouraging them to further explore a product that doesn’t contain ingredients they wish to avoid.
- Simplicity rules. Consumers use and appreciate assistive shelf tags such as the Guiding Stars program to cut through the clutter and noise in the supermarket to find foods that fit their dietary needs. They don’t always have the time to read every label and decipher the enigmatic Nutrition Facts — they want the clear, concise insight that at-a-glance shelf tag labeling provides.
- Half-scratch home runs. By and large, consumers know they should be cooking and consuming more whole foods from scratch and fewer pre-packaged, prepared, “engineered” products. The problem is, few have time for elaborate made-from-scratch meals on a daily basis. Healthful products that can help them get good food on the table faster are highly desirable — everything from ready-to-cook selections like stir-fry or kabobs, to prepped ingredients like diced onions and peppers, and wholesome quick-cooking grains, can help busy shoppers provide nutritious meals and save time. Thanks to savvy grocers, the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
- Loving local. The “locavore” movement is gaining momentum as consumers look to eat more food that’s locally produced, for both the nutritional and economic benefits. Partnerships between retailers and local farms/food producers satisfy this desire for consumers and allow them to fill their shopping cart with these foods in a one-stop shop, rather than needing to visit local farmers’ markets.
While it might seem as though it’s not the grocer’s job to help customers make healthier choices — only to provide the options — there’s actually a great deal that supermarket operators can do to create a more efficient and health-conscious shopping experience. Simple labeling is a start, along with providing the right mix of products and presentation to help customers make eating healthy easier.