New food programs launching across some supermarkets in Canada and the United States are underway to make choosing healthy foods more often that much more simple for consumers.
Sort of a buddy system, shoppers may now consult the sound advice of a dietitian in store, as more grocers begin to hire nutrition experts.
One chain in particular, Hy-Vee, is the only one in the States currently posting a registered dietitian in each of its stores, according to the New York Times. That would boast a total of about 235 stores, in what appears to have emerged as the latest health and wellness trends.
Growing consumer awareness about health, (and perhaps the desire for uncomplicated information about healthier food choices), has spurred the interest, the Times reported:
“There’s been an explosion of interest in having a dietitian among grocery store retailers in the last three or four years,” said Annette Maggi, chairwoman of the supermarket subgroup of the food and culinary professionals practice group at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a consultant to the retail and food manufacturing industries.
But similar programs have also began popping up in Canada. In Ontario, for instance, Loblaws shoppers also have access to in store dietitians, as well as the helpful guide of a new initiative called Guiding Stars.
Launched in early August, the program provides at a glance ratings for every item in the store, ranking healthy choices from most to lesser. It designed to complement existing nutritional data such as the nutrition facts table, on-package product labels, and Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
Recent in-store research from the first phase of Guiding Stars in the Greater Toronto Area showed that eight in ten customers liked the program, considering it clear and easy to use and offering helpful information.
Numbers from a national online poll also revealed confusion about food labels stood in the way of achieving a healthier diet. The online poll, conducted by Vision Critical, for Loblaw, revealed that almost seven out of ten (67%) Canadians are making healthier food choices, but that confusion about food labels is a barrier for many Canadians (60%) in good nutrition.
"Offering in-store dietitians and programs like Guiding Stars are ways that Loblaw is working to empower our customers to make healthier choices," said Michael Lovsin, senior vice president, Health and Wellness, Loblaw Companies Limited, and a member of the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel.