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Tag Team: Bi-Lo and MyPlate

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It was only a matter of time before the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new MyPlate logo began influencing retail marketing.

Bi-Lo, the South Carolina-based supermarket chain, announced this week it will add three new shelf tags to its thrive! nutrition labeling program based on MyPlate’s recommendations. Specifically, the tags will identify better-for-you cuts of meat and seafood — “lean”, “extra lean”, and “Omega 3” — all of which fall under MyPlate’s “Protein” category. Started three months ago, thrive! uses color-coded tags to call out foods that meet various nutrition benchmarks like gluten-free, good source of vitamin A, low in saturated fat, and so on.

bi-lo_logo.jpgProtein being one of the more vexing categories on MyPlate, it’s smart to point shoppers in the right direction. Indeed, there are plenty of unhealthy foods out there that are rich in protein. There are some surprises out there, though, like the latest science that’s showing red meat isn’t the health culprit we’ve always thought it to be.

With grilling season in full swing, the timing couldn’t be better.

“Summertime grilling is the perfect time to start incorporating the USDA’s MyPlate icon into daily nutrition,” said Monica Amburn, BI-LO’s registered dietitian, in a statement.

Unveiled earlier this month, MyPlate took the place of MyPyramid, which looked like a parking garage and recommended foods based on confusing “servings”. Hoping to make their recommendations more straightforward and eye-catching, the USDA divided MyPlate into four brightly colored segments — fruits, vegetables, grains and protein — and added dairy as a fifth, sitting just off the plate.

It’ll be interesting to see the ways in which other retailers incorporate MyPlate into their product mix, and the degree to which they market around it. Bi-Lo found a way to support the USDA’s new graphic under its nascent labeling initiative. Other retailers have stars, numbers and other rating systems that seek to boil down healthy eating in a similar fashion.

Whatever system or logo they choose to promote, retailers are all trying to convey the same message: healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard. Whether that’s actually true remains to be seen.

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