EDITOR'S NOTE: Reality Checkup

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Reality Checkup

07/19/2011

As consumers, myself included, grow ever more aware of health-and-wellness issues and in turn demand more engagement with them from retailers and product manufacturers, the grocery industry must figure out the best ways to help their customers while not compromising profits. Hank Cardello, onetime CPG executive and author of the book “Stuffed,” which indicts the food industry for selling items that contribute to Americans’ obesity problem, believes that food companies can offer better-for-you fare and still make money, and that the CPG industry and medical community should work together instead of bickering over who’s right.

Meanwhile, the best method of giving shoppers at-a-glance nutritional information is still being debated. The Hain Celestial Co., a manufacturer of natural and organic products, has expressed reservations about the industry’s “Nutrition Keys” front-of-package labeling program, likening it to the disastrous industry-led “Smart Choices” initiative of 2009, which was eventually scrapped amid claims of inadequacy.

Despite current arguments over the best system for conveying nutrition facts, make no mistake: A program that food manufacturers, retailers, consumers and medical professionals can all agree on will ultimately come into being, because the health-and-wellness sales opportunity is too big to ignore, and if shoppers can’t trust the companies that make their food and the grocers that sell it to give them honest, accurate information on nutritional content, they’ll seek out others they can trust, taking their dollars with them.

Meanwhile, to guide the next generation into healthier eating habits with the aim of avoiding obesity and other health problems, both at mealtime and snacktime, Birds Eye has launched several initiatives to encourage kids’ appreciation of vegetables, while Clif Bar & Co. has expanded its lineup of better-for-you munchies.