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Peapod Introduces 'Virtual Nutritionist'

Online grocer Peapod has developed a software program that essentially reads labels for customers. NutriFilter, which Peapod called a virtual nutritionist, sifts through all the products available online and highlights the ones that meet shoppers' individual nutritional needs.

Among the nutritional needs the program addresses are gluten-free, peanut-free, or low-fat foods, or foods that meet other requirements, such as being Kosher, organic, high- (or low-) fiber, or even as specific as high in vitamin A or calcium.

Customers can access five pre-set plans (gluten-free, peanut-free, USDA good fiber, USDA low-fat, and USDA low-sodium), with more to come in the future; or, they can create an unlimited number of custom plans by filling out a blank nutrition panel, like those seen on packaged products, choosing any number of nutritional criteria.

NutriFilter provides the USDA guidelines for each nutritional component, but gives additional information, such as how many grams a fiber a person should eat in a day, and how many grams of fiber qualify a food as high-fiber. A customer can give answers to these questions by clicking the Dietary Fiber icon on his or her virtual label, and then specifying how many grams of fiber they'd like the items in their custom "High Fiber Plan" to contain. When the customer shops online, these high-fiber items will automatically jump to the top of the "shelf."

Peapod is the leading U.S. Internet grocer, serving 20 U.S. markets including the metro areas of Chicago, Milwaukee, Boston, suburban New York City, and Washington, D.C., as well as communities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island and New Jersey. The Skokie, Ill.-based company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Ahold.
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