WASHINGTON — The “Take a Peak” nutritional guidance program, which aims to promote the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid guidelines in grocery aisles, was launched at 2,000 supermarket locations in 17 states earlier this month.
Take a Peak was created by the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association and Matchpoint Marketing. The USDA was consulted during the campaign's creation, but it's not an official partner in the program. Take a Peak was initially announced early last year.
“The campaign aims to educate consumers right where they decide which foods to buy — in the aisles of supermarkets across America,” said Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer, FMI. “Shoppers average two trips to the supermarket every single week, providing more than 100 opportunities a year to help them learn about healthy eating.”
The program is being executed in-store through both brand-specific and general MyPyramid dietary recommendation messages and materials, including aisle banners, freestanding and mounted informational kiosks, floor graphics, educational coupon booklets, take-home tip cards, multi-manufacturer endcap displays, shopping bags and interactive computer kiosks that allow shoppers to print out a personalized MyPyramid plan.
“Retailers can pick and choose which materials they'd like to use in their stores,” Hammonds noted. “There are different kinds of signs, brochures and shelf talkers, so there are a lot of ways to go about customizing the program.”
Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets began distributing Take a Peak booklets containing both coupons and nutritional information in all its stores during the first week of January.
“The booklets contain more than $20 in savings on products, including Zephyrhills water, Weight Watchers and Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, Mott's applesauce, Welch's products, Fresh Express bagged salad and Pepperidge Farms frozen bread,” Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said. “Some of the coupons offer really great values like opportunities to buy one, get one free.”
Publix is also promoting the Take a Peak program through demonstrations and television and newspaper advertisements. Brous couldn't comment on redemption rates or plans to change the products promoted with coupons.
Pittsburgh-based Matchpoint is facilitating the customization of individual retailer's campaigns and coordinating efforts between retailers and manufacturers.
“GMA/FPA and FMI invested in putting the actual program together but the execution of Take a Peak in the stores is fully funded by the retailers and manufacturers who choose to participate,” said GMA/FPA spokesman Scott Openshaw. “Even though some of the messages aren't brand-specific, the concept of the program is to present information about the dietary guidelines and then introduce products to purchase to meet those guidelines.”
Only food and beverage products that meet specific nutritional criteria and reach the total daily amount required within the five food groups or oils are eligible for the program.
Hammonds noted that Take a Peak has been well-received.
“Retailer receptiveness has been, and will be, very good,” he said. “We approached some retailers in advance of the launch, and some are just hearing about it now.”
Dayton, Ohio-based Dorothy Lane Markets doesn't have plans to implement the Take a Peak program in its three-stores, according to its healthy living director, Joy Kemp.
“We have our own program set up,” she explained.
The retailer staffs its Healthy Living Departments in two of its stores with knowledgeable staff, Kemp said. The third store contains a smaller section that isn't staffed. The retailer also distributes health and wellness information through its monthly Market Report newsletter and in the Fresh News section of its website.
The launch of Take a Peak comes at a time when retailers are establishing proprietary health and wellness programs.
Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford Bros.' last year launched “Guiding Stars.” The system assigns one, two or three stars — signifying good, better and best nutritional value to national-brand and private-label products throughout the store.
Carteret, N.J.-based Pathmark recently introduced a “Healthy Steps” program that offers nutrition and lifestyle information. Healthy Steps themes will be supported with featured products every two weeks in the Pathmark sales circular, according to the retailer.
Grocers benefit from health and wellness programs like Take a Peak because they help to build customer loyalty, Hammonds noted.
“Consumers value diet and health information that they get right in the store and they've told us that they want that,” he said. “All of us are very interested in lifetime customers. Keeping them healthy and active benefits the industry in the long run. Retailers' employees are also consumers, and programs like these help hold down employee-related health care costs.”
Since the release of MyPyramid in April 2005, its home page has received more than 2.4 billion hits, and 1.6 million visitors have signed up to use the MyPyramid tracker tool, noted Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. About 75% of the site's visitors are female, and 67% of visitors related that the information on the site has prompted them to take action to improve their health.
“With this launch, we're using government information to say ‘we care about you and we want you to reach your personal best in health and well being,’” Johanns said. “Each retailer will decide what works best for their customers in their part of the country. Whatever the route to reaching out, my USDA colleagues and I are extremely pleased that private industry is turning to MyPyramid.”