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As the latest grocery company to launch a program to help consumers make informed choices at the supermarket shelf, Spartan Stores has rolled out a new color-coded labeling system for its multi-banner supermarkets.
Heather Leets, a registered dietitian for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores, and a team of dietitians developed the new “Nutrition Guide” program after spending hundreds of hours reading the fine print on labels on thousands of food products. The new program, which was rolled out for Spartan’s west Michigan banners, D&W Fresh Markets and Family Fare Supermarkets, comprises more than 16,000 products that are clearly identified with a color-coded labeling system, indicating:
--Low-fat (orange label)
--High-fiber (teal blue)
The categories are supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A variety of foods that are low in fat, low in sodium, and high in fiber also will be identified by a heart label indicating that they are heart-friendly.
Spartan Stores officials said the new system was created in light of data from FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2009 Report that finds many grocery shoppers in need of additional nutrition information by their primary grocery store, as well as its own independent research indicating that the majority of consumers believe it’s extremely or very important that their grocery stores of choice provide information about the health and nutrition benefits of the products they purchase
The new labeling system rolled out last week with a press briefing and interactive demonstration led by Leets at the D&W Fresh Market Culinary Classroom in Grandville, Mich.
“The D&W Culinary Classroom [was] the ideal setting for this kickoff,” said Spartan Stores’ EVP of merchandising and marketing, Alan Hartline. “Our facilities have 12 commercial-grade cooking stations and all the necessary equipment. Attendees not only learned about our Nutrition Guide and labeling system, they also had fun planning healthy, appetizing, affordable meals without fuss and confusing measurements.”
Following the presentation, participants had the opportunity to tour the Grandville D&W Fresh Market and check out how the color-coded nutritional labeling system works, which Hartline said “is very easy and ties in with both our weekly recipes and our in-store specials.”
Describing the new nutrition shelf-tag program as a helpful tool for simplified purchase decisions, Leets said, “The beauty of The Nutrition Guide is it is very simple to follow. The labels are all color-coded by FDA category. Any one, any age, any education, any language can quickly identify food attributes that are important to them, like low fat, low sodium and high fiber for a heart friendly choice for healthy meal planning.”
Rather than ranking foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” Leets emphasized that the new program aims to “simply call out foods that are low-fat, low-sodium, high-fiber, gluten-free, sugar-free and low-calorie” to make it “easier to identify foods that may benefit you and your family’s health.”
Leets is also developing simple, healthy, affordable recipes that will often feature weekly sale items for customers to pick up at their local D&W Fresh Markets and Family Fare Supermarkets. She additionally provides online support through the “To Your Good Life” link on the Spartan Stores, D&W and Family Fare Web sites.
The nation’s 11th-largest grocery distributor, Spartan Stores owns and operates 99 retail supermarkets throughout Michigan under the banners of D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Supermarkets, Felpausch Food Centers, Glen’s Markets, Glen’s Fresh Marketplace and VG’s. Spartan Stores also distributes more than 40,000 private label and national brand products to nearly 350 independent grocery stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.