Will exclusive nutrition labels set Raley’s apart from rivals?

Discussion
Photo, graphic: Raley's
Sep 14, 2017
Tom Ryan

Raley’s, the regional food retailer headquartered in West Sacramento, CA, has developed its own nutritional hang tags to provide greater transparency to consumers at the shelf.

Raley’s Shelf Guide system features eight different colored icons:

  • M – Minimally processed
  • N – Nutrient Dense
  • S – No Added Sugar
  • GF – Gluten Free
  • G – Non-GMO
  • O – Organics
  • V – Vegan
  • K – Kosher

The grocer said the simplified labeling on more than 13,000 products enables shoppers to quickly interpret whether a product meets their needs without having to analyze multiple labels.

Online, shoppers can sort for products using the Shelf Guide icons to quickly find products that meet their health and wellness needs. Raley’s noted that Nielsen data shows that 59 percent of grocery shoppers experience difficulty in understanding nutrition facts on product packaging.

The program was independently developed by Raley’s with 122 stores in Northern California and Nevada in partnership with Label Insight and “is not driven by any brands or products,” according to the company. Label Insight uses data science to gain access to product information for more than 400,000 products. The program was reviewed and supported by Arianna Carughi, Ph. D. in Nutritional Sciences, University of California, Berkeley.

The program’s “Minimally Processed” and “Nutrient Dense” callouts are unique among shelf tag descriptions. The system also claims to extend beyond other existing nutritional labeling by including criteria for sodium, sugar and fiber content.

Stated Michael Teel, Raley’s owner and CEO, “Only foods that meet the strict standards of Raley’s will qualify for the Shelf Guide tags. I challenge food manufacturers to aspire to meet our Shelf Guide standards for their products at Raley’s.”

The food industry continues to struggle to find a simple, unified nutritional labeling system with few embracing guides created by brands and independent entities. A visit to some grocers in Manhattan found only a few stickers or hang tags being used, specifically for Gluten Free and Non-GMO. Whole Foods also featured Local stickers for locally-sourced foods.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Raley’s eight-icon Shelf Guide system help shoppers more easily make informed food purchasing decisions or only cause more confusion? Will its Shelf Guide system help differentiate its business from grocery rivals?

Braintrust
"It will certainly help differentiate Raley’s — I’m just not sure it will do so in a positive way."
"I think the hardcore foodies will like the labels once they get used to them, but others will ignore them."
"This new Raley’s system seems more user-friendly than some others but I already see some confusion in the labels."

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10 Comments on "Will exclusive nutrition labels set Raley’s apart from rivals?"

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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Retailers have tried unique labeling systems before and they were not embraced by consumers. They caused greater confusion. As shoppers pay greater attention to labels, manufacturers and retailers should work together to simplify food data, allowing consumers to make choices that better fit their dietary desires.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

It will certainly help differentiate Raley’s — I’m just not sure it will do so in a positive way. I would worry that anyone shopping for a non-labelled product would feel guilty about doing so. The response to a store making you feel guilty? Go to another store.

J. Peter Deeb
BrainTrust

This new Raley’s system seems more user-friendly than some others but I already see some confusion in the labels. “S” to me would indicate sugar rather than no sugar. Others would benefit from a two-letter designation. The education process for Raley’s customers will be important to the understanding and usage. I applaud their effort, time will tell whether it pays off.

Michael Blackburn
Guest
2 months 28 days ago

Trying to find these types of products in a traditional grocery store is like trying to find buried treasure, so anything that simplifies the process is welcome for those concerned about sugar, gluten, etc. The only thing Raley’s has to to do is clearly communicate with the shopper that the labels are positive, not negative — these are the products you want.

Warren Thayer
BrainTrust
I love the idea, but have a couple unanswered questions. Only the “top two” icons get onto the shelf label. How are those top two chosen, if a product qualifies for, say, four icons? If I’m seeking gluten-free products, but gluten-free comes in third or fourth and is not one of the top two icons, how does that help me? There may be answers; I just don’t know. And the examples shown have the icons on shelf talkers promoting a special price. I’d like to see how they look on standard labels without the promo offers. I think the hardcore… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest

A nice idea, perhaps, but it seems awfully complicated. (And California being a litigious state, a potential source for lawsuits … no good deed goes unpunished!)

I seem to recall some store offering a “traffic signal” approach (green = “good for you” etc.) which was too simplistic, but something in between would be my suggestion. After all, nutritional info is already on the package, a supplemental system needs to improve upon that if it’s to have any value.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

The main problem with grocery labeling is information overload. A simple, well designed standardized system of labeling may help to mitigate this. However, there are now so many terms — many of them opaque — that even this may be insufficient to help the consumer sift through all the various options.

Kevin Merritt
Guest
I am a bit surprised by some of the skeptical feedback here. This concept is nothing new and widely used by most major chains today. Publix is a great example of a well designed system (they detail it on their website). What is unique is the fact that they are not using pre-existing services from the likes of NuVal, Galdson, HowGood, healthyaisles, so maybe that could create some loyalty. I have studied consumer behavior at the biological level and think they have keyed into some great design elements here. People read very little as they shop. They are very habitual… Read more »
Seth Nagle
BrainTrust

This is a great start! It’s all about communication and keeping it simple. If they incorporate this messaging across their marketing channels and listen to their shoppers I can see this having value. Also wouldn’t be surprised if they roll out with version 2.0 rather quickly.

Andrea Ramirez
Guest

I like Raley’s, but find these letters more confusing than helpful. One of the most consumer-friendly ways I’ve seen unique labeling was at Snap Kitchen in Austin (Snap has cases in some Whole Foods). Granted Snap sells meals vs. ingredients, but their cute and intuitive icons made finding the right food for your lifestyle and diet easy. A few of the icons are at this link. This approach wouldn’t work for all of grocery, but it would be nice in the prepared foods section, and could be a differentiator there.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It will certainly help differentiate Raley’s — I’m just not sure it will do so in a positive way."
"I think the hardcore foodies will like the labels once they get used to them, but others will ignore them."
"This new Raley’s system seems more user-friendly than some others but I already see some confusion in the labels."

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