Hannaford Gives Three Stars to Healthiest Foods

Discussion
Sep 07, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Hannaford Bros. is looking out for the nutritional health of its shoppers. The chain recently announced it was creating a nutritional ranking system that would alert customers using stars on shelf price tags.


One star on a shelf tag would signify a good nutritional profile while items with three stars would be deemed to be the best value.


Foods that do not even rate a star are those that fail to meet the criteria established by Hannaford’s scientific panel, which includes nutrition experts from the University of North Carolina, Dartmouth School of Medicine, Tufts University, Food Nutrition & Policy Consultants, University of California at Davis, University of Southern Maine and Harvard University.


According to a report by The Business Review (Albany, NY), less than one-quarter of the products sold in Hannaford’s stores receive a ranking of one or more stars.


Some items, such as coffee, tea and water, are not ranked because they contain less than five calories per serving. Baby foods are also not included in Hannaford’s ranking system.


Hannaford’s ranking system came out of consumer research done by the company, which found many of its shoppers were confused about the nutritional value of many foods.


Bill Greer, a spokesperson for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), called Hannaford’s star ranking system “an exceptional nutritional education program.”


Hannaford Bros. joins a number of other retailers that have developed programs to help shoppers make more informed nutritional purchasing decisions.


United Supermarkets in Lubbock, Texas, for example, uses red shelf tags to identify foods considered good for heart health.


Ukrop’s in Virginia highlights items that meet the needs of consumers looking for vegetarian, gluten-free, low-fat or low-sodium items. 


Discussion Questions: What are your thoughts on the attempts by Hannaford Bros. and others to help take some of the confusion out of food choices by
consumers? Is it possible that some grocers will wind up facing negative business consequences as a result of taking some of the confusion out of the equation?


Interestingly, according to the Business Review article, only 23 percent of the more than 27,000 items carried by Hannaford Bros. rated a single
star or more.

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6 Comments on "Hannaford Gives Three Stars to Healthiest Foods"


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John Roach
Guest
John Roach
14 years 5 months ago

As a person who actually shops at Hannaford and a person who is concerned about his health but not enough to read labels, I appreciate Hannaford’s system and I’m excited to see show up in the stores.

I agree that Hannaford has positioned itself for a bit of a backlash from its consumers per Leon’s first concern. However, I think this kind of education/guidance is important in getting people to wake up and starting to care about what they put into their bodies.

In my opinion, how Hannaford handles the backlash will determine how well this program does in generating foot traffic and sales.

Personally, I’m going to be very sad if once the program is rolled out I find that I can only afford the 1 and 2 star items. If Hannaford can show me that it’s less expensive for me to buy the 3 star items, I will shop nowhere else.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

It’s a good idea and a first step but, depending on how many places people shop, could result in increased confusion. Over here, manufacturers are starting to put labels and all sorts of symbols on their packs – do they do that in the US and, if so, are they likely to conflict with what the retailers are doing (as is also happening over here)?

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

Leon is right. Once consumers get through congratulating you for the rating system they’ll begin attacking you for exceptions and the fact that you continue to stock items you believe have no nutritional value.

Leon Nicholas
Guest
Leon Nicholas
14 years 5 months ago

2 concerns: It shines a light on the degree to which the chain’s (and the industry’s) center store offerings are largely bad for you (soda, chips, canned stuff, etc. that gets displayed). Second, there will need to be very consistent standards across categories on what constitutes a particular rating. This can get arbitrary fast.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 5 months ago

I believe there is a difference between “a healthy food” and “eating in a healthy way.” You can eat 50 different food items that are, in themselves, rated very healthy but eat a very poor diet. A simplistic example would be fruit and cereal (the article said fruit and cereal are the two highest-rated categories under this system), which even with lots of variety, are calorie dense.

The problem appears to be two-pronged: the individual foods, yes, but more than that, the overall food patterns. But at least this is a step in the right direction.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

Healthy eating communication efforts by Hannaford, United, and Ukrop’s should be applauded. Any innovation has its potential downsides. Demanding innovation without any downside prevents innovation (“Perfection is the enemy of the good”: Voltaire.) Undoubtedly as time goes along, Hannaford, United, and Ukrop’s will adapt and polish their healthy eating communication programs. In the long run, if your customers are healthier won’t your sales be healthier? The dead and hospitalized aren’t good supermarket customers.

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