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Guiding Stars Will Help Shoppers Make Better Beverage Choices

Enhanced nutrition guidance program enables more drinks to earn stars
Guiding Stars Beverages Main Image
A change to Guiding Stars' algorithm means that calorie-free beverages like seltzers are now eligible to earn stars, enabling customers to make better choices when they shop.

The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program has enhanced its algorithm, the formula it uses to assign stars to foods and beverages, so that no- and low-calorie beverages are now eligible to earn stars, enabling customers to make better choices when they shop. Examples of new star-earning beverages are water, seltzers, unsweetened teas, unsweetened coffee, coconut water, kombucha and 100% juices.  

“For more than 15 years, Guiding Stars has been helping shoppers make nutritious choices, guiding manufacturers to improve their recipes, and enabling food retailers to meet their customers’ desire for options that promote good health,” said Julie Greene, director of Portland, Maine-based Guiding Stars. “Through the launch of this new algorithm, we are now able to provide more guidance for shoppers.” 

The program’s nutrition guidance icons let consumers save time and be confident about their in-store and online shopping choices: one star for good, two stars for better, and three stars for best nutritional value. Guiding Stars’ icons appear at more than 2,000 grocery stores. Using the program, retailers can report sales of products that meet an objective, science-based standard for nutritional value.  

Guiding Stars makes use of a Scientific Advisory Panel to monitor current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommendations from national and international health organizations to tweak algorithms. The panel recommended the beverage algorithm enhancement after a thorough review of scientific evidence on the importance of beverage choices for the promotion of health and prevention of chronic disease.  

“Since sugar-sweetened beverages are the greatest contributor of added sugars in the American diet, we aimed to evolve our guidance to identify beverages that provide hydration, without increasing the risk of chronic disease,” said panel member Leslie Fischer, PhD, MPH, RD. “The new Guiding Stars approach for the evaluation of beverages allows low- and no-calorie options, such as water and flavored seltzers, to be eligible for stars.” 

“By using a positive approach, Guiding Stars makes it easy to make nutritious choices,” added Greene. “We’ll continue to monitor the latest scientific evidence, policies and regulations to evolve our nutrition guidance program to meet the evolving needs of retailers and their customers, and do our part to promote health in the communities we touch.” 

Introduced in 2006, Guiding Stars is an objective, evidence-based, nutrition guidance program that’s currently found in more than 2,000 grocery stores, including Ahold Delhaize USA’s retail banners. The program is also available at public schools, universities, corporate and hospital dining facilities, and nonprofit hunger relief organizations, and the Guiding Stars Food Finder app can be downloaded to iOS and Android devices. 

In other Ahold Delhaize USA news, Quincy, Mass.-based Retail Business Services, the division’s services company, has completed its first Innovation Discovery Days, during which associates from Retail Business Services’ Retail Innovation Center of Excellence and IT, alongside colleagues from ADUSA Supply Chain, Peapod Digital Labs and each of Ahold Delhaize USA’s retail banners, evaluated solutions from 17 startups for their potential to improve the omnichannel retail experience. A range of technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, was presented during the two-day event, with the goals of making the customer shopping experience easier; creating a welcoming, engaging customer experience; and enhancing retail store processes and execution. In the wake of the event, stakeholders from Retail Business Services and other Ahold Delhaize USA companies will discuss the products and solutions presented and create paths to pilot them at Ahold Delhaize USA companies.

Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, operates more than 2,000 stores across 23 states and is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Its brands are Food Lion, FreshDirect, The Giant Co., Giant Food, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Peapod and Retail Business Services.

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