Hannaford Deems Year-old 'Guiding Stars' a Success So Far

SCARBOROUGH, Maine -- Consumers are increasingly choosing foods that offer more nutrition for the calories than those foods that don't in many departments of Hannaford Supermarkets here, which asserts that in some cases better-for-you items are being chosen three or four times more than their conventional counterparts. The grocer released this information yesterday as part of its findings since last year's launch of "Guiding Stars," a storewide system with the aim of helping Hannaford shoppers make more informed nutritional choices.

Since its introduction in September 2006, Hannaford's Guiding Stars system has analyzed, evaluated, and rated over 25,500 food items in all of the grocer's stores. The system features one-, two- or three-star ratings representing good, better or best nutritional value, respectively.

Additional findings from the retailer included the following:

--The greatest change occurred in the packaged foods section of the store: Selection of packaged foods with one, two or three stars grew steadily at 2.5 times the rate of unstarred items.

--Selection of fattier meat decreased: Starred ground beef (90 percent or more fat-free) selection rose 7 percent, while unstarred ground beef dropped 5 percent. Starred chicken grew 5 percent, while unstarred chicken declined 3 percent. Movement of all meats and poultry with stars grew at more than 2.5 times the rate of those without stars.

--Selection of whole milk, which has no stars, dropped 4 percent, while that of fat-free milk, which has a three-star rating, went up 1 percent.

--Selection of breakfast cereals with stars grew 3.5 times more than no-star cereals, which increased only slightly.

--Movement of starred yogurts increased over 3.5 times faster than unstarred yogurts.

--Movement of starred frozen dinners/entrees grew about 4.5 times faster than unstarred frozen dinners/entrees.

Meanwhile fresh produce, all of which earns stars, remained constant, and such sections of the store as seafood and bakery showed no impact from the system.

"These first-year results indicate to us that we're definitely on the right track in offering our customers a useful tool that can help improve their shopping time with us," noted Hannaford director of external communications Caren Epstein in a statement.

A recent survey of 744 shoppers from Hannaford's customer panel was similarly positive: Customer awareness of Guiding Stars is at 81 percent, the highest level of awareness yet, and half of the shoppers who know about Guiding Stars say they use it "fairly often."

In other Guiding Stars news, two categories not yet rated are coming soon: Baby foods will be rated starting Sept. 15, with 82 percent of all such products in the store to receive at least one star, oils and other fats will be given stars toward the end of the year.

Bottled water, coffee, tea, spices, and other foods with five or fewer calories per manufacturer's serving size don't rate stars, as they're not a significant source of nutrients. All other foods without stars are those that don't meet the nutritional criteria to earn a star.

Delhaize-owned Hannaford operates 160 stores under the Hannaford Supermarket and Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy banners.

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