WEGMANS PICKS NEW EGG CARTONS
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans this month began packaging its private-label brand eggs in molded paper/pulp cartons after seeking input from shoppers and analyzing the environmental impact of a variety of different packaging types. “We want to understand the environmental pros and cons of each option, from creating the product to getting it to the consumer, to disposing of whatever is left, such as packaging,” Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator for Wegmans, said in a release. “Our team used a process called Life Cycle Assessment, a scientific approach that measures the environmental footprint by tracking what goes into the product, including raw materials, energy and transportation costs, water, and so on.” Wadsworth's team examined three materials commonly used to package eggs — polystyrene foam, molded paper and clear, recyclable plastic. The plastic cartons were disqualified due to higher rates of product breakage. Wadsworth noted that “Ninety-five percent of a product's environmental footprint is in the raw materials used to create it - in this case, the water, fertilizer and energy that goes into making the chicken feed, and the housing that protects chickens from the weather.” Neither molded paper nor polystyrene breaks down in landfills, but the molded paper cartons were ultimately chosen because they are made from 100% recycled paper, instead of petroleum, and they can be composted by shoppers with backyard compost heaps.
PRIVATE LABELS BOOST FRESH FOODS
WEST DUNDEE, Ill. — Private-label brand share of department sales increased in each perishable food department by about 1% in 2009 compared with 2008, according to a recent report from The Perishables Group here. Bakery departments saw the largest increases in private-label sales, led by desserts. Dollar sales of private-label desserts rose 4.7%, while volume sales increased 7.2%. The report notes that, “Though this can be troubling for manufacturers of national brands, strategies such as bundling store brands and private labels in promotions can encourage trial of private-label items while not cannibalizing sales of national brands.”
NRA HAS MIXED VIEW ON SALT CUTS
WASHINGTON — The National Restaurant Association here has released a statement in support of the Institute of Medicine's strategies to reduce sodium intake in the United States, although the group said that voluntary measures from the restaurant industry would be more effective than government regulation. The IOM last week urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate salt levels in processed food and prepared meals in order to help lower the incidence of diseases such as hypertension, which are linked to high sodium intake. The recommendations came in response to a request by Congress in 2008 for ways to reduce sodium intake levels to those outlined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The restaurant association has been collaborating with its suppliers, processors and health organizations to address the issue, according to the statement. “We agree with the IOM's focus on consumer acceptance, and the acknowledgement that gradual change is essential to success is welcome,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the association. “The industry supports a voluntary, incremental approach to reducing sodium levels in menu items, and would have concerns about any potential government mandate that creates a one-size-fits-all rule to ingredient standards or sets arbitrary per item limits that do not reflect the complexity of addressing the nation's eating habits and improving overall wellness. Without customer acceptance, there will be no measurable change in consumer behavior.”