WASHINGTON - The produce section has its "5 A Day" campaign. Dairy has its "3 A Day." Now, there's a nutrition campaign that will embrace the whole store.
"Take A Peak" is designed to translate the federal food pyramid's recommendations into in-store signage and radio, recipe cards, weekly ads and the like to help people choose healthful foods.
"We are very excited about how this program can take the government's dietary guidance and the pyramid and take this into stores, where we can really reach consumers," said C. Manly Molpus, president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association here, which initiated the program and whose members have been blamed for contributing to the nation's health problems. "And a healthy America is better for us. They're better consumers and better employees. It's clearly in our own self-interest to promote good health and healthy lifestyles."
The GMA, speaking publicly for the first time about Take A Peak, said the campaign fulfills the association's pledge to bring the one-year-old MyPyramid and accompanying recommendations to the store level. A committee of members of GMA and the Food Marketing Institute, its partner on the project, hired marketing agency MatchPoint Marketing, Pittsburgh, to create the promotional materials and market the program to retailers.
Retailers got their first look at the campaign at the FMI's Midwinter Executive Conference in January. David Lied, president of MatchPoint, said he hoped to have retailers launch the program by late fall or early 2007.
Take A Peak, an invitation to the busy shopper that plays on the pyramid shape, incorporates the government's pyramid icon and daily dietary recommendations. "What we have found is that there's very little understanding by most consumers of how to apply the new pyramid to their life. Most Americans don't have a lot of time," Lied said. "It's a quick way to make healthier decisions."
Lori Kelch, director of healthy living at three-store Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton, Ohio, said signage can help communicate health information to shoppers. "I do a lot of presentations in the community, and I've had a lot of people asking me about the new food pyramid and asking what is its purpose in the first place."
Kelch, who was told about Take A Peak by an SN reporter, cautioned that retailers should be prepared to back up signage with personal help.
"I do think it definitely will have an impact on customers," she said. "I just hope there is someone there to answer their questions accurately. They are turning to the places they buy their foods from for accurate information."
Organizers said the campaign materials include informational brochures retailers can distribute.
Lied said no retailer has committed to a launch date, but that MatchPoint has talked to most major retailers about the program and that some large ones, which he wouldn't name, are expected to execute at least part of it. "No retailer that we have been to has flat out said, 'We're not interested,'" he said.
Once a retailer commits, MatchPoint will facilitate the campaign between the retailer and manufacturer and help match the campaign to the store's look and feel. Lied said MatchPoint also is asking manufacturer and food trade groups for financial support, which he said would be tied to specific retailers.
Lied said that in designing the campaign, MatchPoint strived for a concept that would complement, not compete with, retailers' existing in-store nutrition education campaigns, such as 3 and 5 A Day and in-house initiatives.
"We don't want to add clutter, and with our creative à we feel that it may actually cut down on clutter, because I think we can get a lot of information in a consistent format," he said.
Using guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, retailers may incorporate onto signage images of store- or manufacturer-brand items that meet the government's dietary guidance.
The purpose is to help shoppers pick items that help them meet the guidelines, said Alison Kretser, senior director of scientific and nutrition policy for GMA, who worked with GMA members on ways to promote those guidelines. The recommended items must be meaningful, though, she said. In the case of whole grains, the government recommends that people eat 6 ounces of grains per day, at least 3 of which, or 48 grams, are whole. (Recommendation is based on a 1,800-calorie daily diet.) So a product would have to contain at least 8 grams per serving to be recommended as whole grain, while one with fewer than 8 would be promoted as enriched, Kretser said. "We want to be sure we communicate whether this is a whole grain selection or an enriched grain," she said.
Shoppers widely recognize the original food pyramid, launched in 1992, but few followed the guidelines, Kretser said. The current pyramid, introduced in 2005, emphasizes individualized recommendations as well as physical activity. Take A Peak is the first attempt at a widespread in-store educational campaign. "This is taking it to the next level of promoting the federal recommendations," she said. "We want it to become actionable."
Once the campaign is under way, MatchPoint will track sales to see if promoted items sell faster, she said, adding, "That will be considered a success."