Nutrition guidance systems have made their debuts in grocery stores across the country. From NuVal to Nutrition Tags, customers are getting help making healthier choices. While this is music to this dietitian’s ears, what does it all mean for you, the customer? What guidelines are these programs following? How do they stack up?
Right now, around ten or more nutrition guidance systems are in chains around the country. Some take a color coded approach using FDA guidelines, while others use more complicated numerical systems. What determines these systems? Does the FDA regulate them? A universal system does not exist at this time. Some are up for licensing but each system is unique. The FDA currently does not regulate these systems.
Do these nutrition guidance systems make a difference to you? According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, they do. Two studies have recently been published showing shoppers are making better choices with these systems.
How do these systems stack up? Whether stars, numbers, or color coded tags, getting people to eat better is the end goal. I do have some personal perspective, seeing that I implemented a healthy eating tag system years ago. From a retail perspective, store implementation is key. You want the tags to be easy to install with no extra work involved. I like Guiding Stars, NuVal, Nutrition Guide, and Nutritional Tags for this. Some of the others may be intergrated as well. Other features I like are Guiding Stars iPhone app and online Food Finder. My only potential concern with some of these systems is too much of a good thing is too much. Keeping it simple is the key to success with customers. I also have concerns with using “natural” in any of the systems. If it’s labeled, people may start to assume it’s healthy.
Here is the 411 on the most popular ones around. See if your supermarket is listed.
Numerical Based Nutrition Systems:
Guiding Stars: Hannaford’s, Bloom, Food Lion, Sweet Bay, Kings, Homeland, Country Mart
NuVal: Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, Giant-Eagle, Meijer, Tops, King Kullen, Brookshire’s, United Supermarkets, Market Street, Festival Foods, Coburn’s, Food City, Super 1 Foods, Amigos, Big Y, and Kroger (only in Lexington, KY)
ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index): Whole Foods
Color Coded Shelf Tag Systems:
Nutritional Tags: Bi-Lo
Nutrition IQ: Acme, Albertson’s, Jewel-Osco, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop’n Save, Shoppers
Simple Nutrition: Safeway
Nutrition Guide: Family Fare, Glen’s Fresh Market, Glen’s Markets, VG’s Fresh Market, D & W Fresh Market
your Wellness: Harris Teeter
Healthy Ideas: Giant Foods
Nutrition Shelf Tags: Bashas
How do you like these systems? Do you find them helpful?