Safeway Launches Nutritional Label Program

Discussion
Feb 16, 2011
George Anderson

Grocers have tried a variety of nutritional labeling systems
to help consumers make wise food choices and gain a competitive advantage in
the process. Now, Safeway is introducing its SimpleNutrition program to the
mix.

The SimpleNutrition system uses green shelf tags to highlight two key nutritional
benefits such as gluten free, organic, made with whole grains, etc. In total,
there are 22 different benefits that appear on the labels.

“Consumers are inundated with conflicting nutrition information and are
often skeptical of the nutrition claims on packaging,” said Barbara Walker,
group vice president, consumer communications and brand marketing for Safeway,
in a statement. “SimpleNutrition is an ‘at the shelf’ program that simplifies
and personalizes the grocery shopping experience so that shoppers can feel
confident about making more informed food choices.”

A recent nationwide
survey commissioned by Safeway found 36 percent of moms are cautious about
the claims made on packaging while 41 percent cited a lack of time to read
labels in stores. Safeway is positioning SimpleNutrition as the answer to both
concerns.

The grocer has added a page on its website, Safeway.com/SimpleNutrition,
to help consumers access food, health and nutrition information.

Discussion Questions: How well received have shelf nutritional label programs been at retail to date? What is your assessment of Safeway’s SimpleNutrition program?

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9 Comments on "Safeway Launches Nutritional Label Program"


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David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

I would not go as far as to say that Safeway’s nutritional labeling program is innovative but I definitely view this initiative as customer friendly, more extensive yet simpler, and very worthwhile. I like it!

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

I’d be interested to see if there is a sales effect. On the one hand, they may be making life simpler for the shopper–a good thing. On the other hand, it may create sufficient psychological pressure on the shopper that they stay away from their regular products, which may have little nutritional value. Of course, I’d buy my Hostess Cupcakes and Cocoa Puffs regardless.

Dan Raftery
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Anything that can help shoppers make smarter/healthier choices in the store is a great idea and this certainly sounds like a plus. However, if the consumer is inundated with conflicting information, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The front of package Nutrition Keys have just been launched by a powerful industry consortium (FMI’s & GMA’s Trading Partner Alliance) with the endorsement of Michelle Obama.

If big chain retailers (not just Safeway is active in this) adopt various coding systems to “gain a competitive advantage” as stated above, integrity issues could creep into their image management. One system says this; another says that; who is right? You get the picture.

I think the more global approach is really the best way to serve the public interest–like the way the nutrition keys were developed.

Joan Treistman
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

Reading is work. Getting consumers to read while they are trying to quickly get out of the store is quite a challenge. Safeway has the opportunity to observe their shoppers and ask them about the initiative. We’re talking about behavior, i.e., what people do. Let’s see. Hopefully, Safeway will share their learning.

David Livingston
Guest
10 years 2 months ago

I don’t think any of the labeling programs have been well received. The problem is every manufacturer wants their products to be labeled healthy and nutritious, regardless of the quality. Sooner or later we start seeing every sugar coated candy cereal labeled as nutritious health food.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 2 months ago

More shelf stickers! Hooray! Every supermarket shopper wants more! But, that’s simply not true. Take a look at those new Safeway labels. Most are either meaningless or redundant to the claims on the product packages themselves. What if Safeway refuses to award their “Sodium Smart” shelf tag to a product that prominently claims “Low Salt” on its label? What does “Fat Free” mean? Trans fats? Other kinds of fats? What do “Organic” and “Natural” really mean? There are no generally-accepted definitions and consumers are clueless. What about “Made with Whole Grains?” Are there just “some” whole grains in there along with non-whole grains? What’s the ingredient percentage threshold to earn this shelf tag or the shelf tags for sodium, sugar, etc.?

In six months, when these shelf tags are faded, scratched, chipped, and dusty, Safeway will wonder why they ever tried. Except for the short-term publicity bump and website feature, of course.

Mark Burr
Guest
10 years 2 months ago
These programs are a ‘have to’ not a ‘want to’ for food retailers. When they become a ‘want to’ they will be a lot more engaging and effective at educating customers. For now, they are just noise on the shelf edge. Right now they are sort of as effective as the previous terror threat level warnings. A bunch of colors, a bunch of information no real assistance in telling me whether or not I need to head for shelter or enjoy the day. It’s all good information that consumers should want to know. The trick is presenting it in a way that consumers can quickly and easily identify the intended information in less than split seconds as they make the decision to buy. Most if not all of the programs I have seen to date do anything but blur my eyes, create confusion, and get in they way of telling me how much the item is on the shelf that I might want to buy. At some point, before they are required by law, an… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 2 months ago

After reading Scanner’s comments, I’d like to weigh in again. I think he hit the nail on the head. Shelf confusion. And a solution occurred to me: This should be a website program. Click on “Geographical Location.” Then, click on “Category” and select from a list. Next, click on “Attribute” and select from a list including low sodium, all-natural, etc. There’s your shopping list, and it’s fluid day-to-day and inexpensive for Safeway. Another way to go would be to click on “Attribute” BEFORE “Category” to get a whole-store list of the kinds of stuff you’re jonesing for.

Not available to everyone because not everyone has internet access? In your mind, intersect a circle depicting internet users with a circle depicting consumers interested in nutritional information. In my ‘magination, they intersect almost completely.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
10 years 2 months ago

It’s about time Safeway did something in nutrition point of purchase labeling. A multitude of regional and national chains have already introduced their own point of purchase labeling programs. Where does their effort and others leave the new FMI-GMA voluntary nutrition keys front of pack nutrition labeling initiative just introduced January 24, 2011?

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