Natural Foods Merchandiser

What’s next in naturals: March 2010

Loyalty card alerts shoppers to recalls
Cincinnati-based supermarket chain Kroger has expanded its shopper-loyalty card program, designed to provide people with customized coupons, to also include a personalized safety-recall notification system. Now, using loyalty card members’ sales histories, the supermarket can selectively contact customers who’ve purchased goods that have been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration.

What’s next: Other grocery chains, including Price Chopper and Wegmans, are also beginning to use such loyalty clubs to coordinate recall alerts.

What this means for retail: While not every retailer has the ability—or the desire—to build a personalized shopper-loyalty program, thanks to the Internet there are other, less complicated ways to sensitively spread the word about safety recalls. Examples include e-mail newsletters as well as store-sponsored Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

Start-up cuts retailers’ health care costs
Danvers, Mass.-based nutrition support company The Full Yield is working
with Boston-area companies such as John Hancock insurance to help rein in health care costs through a 12-month nutritional program focused on natural and healthy prepared foods, along with exercise programs and online monitoring tools. “Our goal is to help reduce, reverse and prevent chronic diseases caused by poor diet,” says Full Yield Founder and CEO Zoe Finch Totten.

What’s next: Totten says her company will eventually expand nationwide. Considering that a recent Emory University study concluded that by 2018 the country will devote $344 billion annually, or more than 20 percent of its total health care spending, on medical costs relating to obesity, companies could very well be lining up for such services.

What this means for retail: You can create your own version of The Full Yield by offering suggestions to local companies to help them prepare healthy meals for their employees. Diet and lifestyle suggestions go over a lot better when they come via a complimentary catered meal.

France outlines GMO labeling system
In November, the French government’s advisory panel on biotechnology recommended that plant products and animal feed with less than 0.1 percent genetically modified ingredients could be labeled “free of genetically modified organisms.” The recommendation, which is expected to become law in the second half of this year, is a significant increase over the country’s original requirement that only products with 0.01 percent GM ingredients or less could be considered GMO free, because it’s technically impossible to ensure such a minute level of GM contaminants.

What’s next: While European regulations require that food containing more than 0.9 percent GM ingredients be labeled genetically modified, this is one of the first steps on the continent to regulate the concept of GMO free. Currently in the States, there are no federal standards for GMO-free non-organic products.

What this means for retail: U.S. farmers, manufacturers and retailers are taking matters into their own hands by working with the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit that provides a third-party testing process that verifies GM ingredients. Products containing less than 0.9 percent GMOs are issued a “Non-GMO” seal. Whole Foods Market recently partnered with the program to verify its private-label products. For more information, go to

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