Supervalu has unveiled a new nutrition information program designed to help consumers make better food choices right at the store shelf. As one of several such programs debuting at other retailers around the country, including United Supermarket’s Market Street concept, Supervalu’s “nutrition iQ” was developed and implemented in collaboration with Joslin Clinic, an academic medical center affiliated with Boston’s Harvard Medical School.
The nutrition iQ program will roll out across the nation’s third-largest grocery retailer’s family of grocery stores nationwide–including Acme, Albertsons, bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy–over the next six months.
The Minneapolis-based company said it launched the program amid a growing body of research that shows consumers are having difficulty making sense of nutrition guidelines and are looking for an easier way to make informed food choices for better health.
“Supervalu is committed to helping its customers lead healthy lifestyles,” said Jeff Noddle, Supervalu’s chairman and CEO. “The nutrition iQ program is designed to provide consumers with a credible, easy-to-understand, at-a-glance approach to healthy eating using a common set of criteria to objectively evaluate all of the products within our stores–regardless of manufacturer, brand or price.”
The nutrition iQ program will roll out in two phases in Supervalu’s 1,300-plus company-owned banners nationwide. The first phase will focus on items found in the center store grocery, frozen and dairy areas, where research shows that people have the most frustrations and encounter the most questions regarding food labeling.
Products in the bakery, deli, meat, produce and seafood categories will be evaluated and tagged as part of the second phase. The program will encompass products at all price points, making it easy to find better-for-you foods for every budget. Approximately 14 percent of the 30,000 products evaluated during the first phase will receive nutrition iQ shelf tags. Long term, the company expects about 10 percent of all products throughout the store to carry the nutrition iQ tag.
Products and categories that don’t meet the program’s threshold criteria, which requires an item to have limited levels of sodium, saturated fat and, in some cases, sugar, or lack significant nutritional value, were excluded from nutrition iQ. Excluded categories include bottled water and soft drinks; candy, gum and mints; coffee and tea; cookies; dietetic foods; ice cream; salts and spices; shelf-stable juices and drinks; shortening and oils; soft drink mixers; syrup; molasses; and baby food. Some of these items, however, may still contain other important nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals or healthy fats, that can be part of a balanced diet.
Nutrition iQ uses established U.S. Food and Drug Administration Nutrient Content Claims as a framework to determine the nutritional benefits of items that pass a set of qualifying criteria and are, at a base level, better for you. Products meeting the threshold criteria are then further evaluated to identify their top one or two nutritional benefits, which are called out for consumers on color-coded nutrition iQ shelf tags.
The program covers 11 nutrient claims in seven categories with the shelf tags color-coded as follows: Excellent or good source of fiber are denoted by orange tags, excellent or good source of calcium by blue tags, excellent or good source of protein by yellow tags, low or healthier level of sodium by dark-green tags, low-calorie by a purple tag, low saturated fat by a red tag and whole grains by a dark-orange tag.
The tags are located in an area where consumers naturally look when making food purchases–on the store shelf right below the product’s price, unit price and bar code.
The at-a-glance cues are designed to help point consumers toward healthy food options. The information serves as a supplement to the more detailed information already found on the “Nutrition Facts” portion of food labels, should consumers wish to compare products further.