Bloom to Let Hannaford's 'Stars' Guide Shoppers to Nutrition

Food Lion's Bloom division said yesterday it will launch the Guiding Stars Nutrition Navigation Program in all its stores this month. The program's expansion to the Food Lion-owned banner confirms that Hannaford Supermarkets' experimental food rating system has been a success since its launch in 2006.

Developed by an independent scientific advisory panel of experts, Guiding Stars was the first system of its kind in the United States, and follows a specific algorithm for labeling food items based on their nutritional content. The number of stars -- one, two or three -- on the product's shelf tag represents the nutritional value of the food item, with three stars being the most nutritious choice.

"Based on research surrounding the initial success of this program, we recognize that customers want shelf-level assistance in deciding what foods to buy for themselves and their families," said James Egan, v.p. of Bloom. "With this innovative program, Bloom stores will provide shoppers with a convenient, easy-to-use approach to buying the most nutritious choices."

 Each of the 61 Bloom stores' 30,000-plus food items have been analyzed, the retailer said. Foods with one star have good nutritional value, while two stars represents better nutritional value and three stars signifies the best nutritional value. If the shelf tag has no stars, it simply means one of two things: Either the food doesn't meet the criteria for a star or the food is not rated. For example, bottled waters and other items with less than five calories per manufacturer's serving are not rated.

Foods with stars generally have more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and whole grains, but less trans and saturated fats, cholesterol, added sodium, and added sugars. However, the Guiding Stars formula also recognizes natural differences in foods and adjusts the formula for calculating stars accordingly.

"The Guiding Stars system was created to give busy shoppers a quick, at-a-glance tool if they're looking for foods with more nutrition value in each department of our stores," said Robin Johnson, director of Bloom's marketing and brand development. "Our system complements the Nutrition Facts label as an easy, convenient starting point -- from there, shoppers can find more details on the label itself."

Hannaford has said it plans to have the nutrition rating program in place at 1,500 stores, via a licensing agreement, by the end of the year. Its sister chain Sweetbay launched the system last year, and Food Lion has said it will roll out the system in 2008. All of the chains fall under the umbrella of Brussels-based Delhaize Group.

Bloom operates stores in North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.
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