Unified Grocers Partners With Guiding Stars and healthyAisles to Launch Nutrition Guidance Program for Independent Retailers

Unified Grocers, a wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States, has partnered with Guiding Starsand Vestcom’s healthyAisles to give shoppers of independent grocery stores a quick and easy way to make informed decisions about healthy food choices. This convenient and easy-to-use shelf tag program allows shoppers to see at a glance foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories and identify the key health benefits of each item.

The Guiding Stars and healthyAisles program debuted at Granite Falls Market Fresh IGA, Granite Falls, Washington and Lamb’s Garden Home Market, Portland, Oregon earlier this year. Unified is planning to roll out the program at more independent retailers’ stores throughout the West in the coming months.

Shelf tags throughout the participating stores provide consumers a zero to three-star nutritional rating for each product and also address individuals’ dietary or lifestyle needs by identifying the following product attributes: heart healthy, low sodium, whole grain, good source of fiber, gluten free, organic, low saturated fat, or calcium smart.

Mike Trask, owner, Granite Falls Market Fresh IGA, said, “Nutrition and healthy eating are key considerations for our customers, so we always strive to meet their specific dietary needs. By bringing an excellent nutrition guidance program to our shelves we are making shopping for healthy foods easier and helping our shoppers meet their nutrition goals.”

John Eldredge, director of brand and business development for Guiding Stars, said, “We are pleased to join Unified Grocers and healthyAisles to help supermarket shoppers find healthy foods that fit into their lifestyle needs. This collaboration showcases Unified Grocers’ commitment to helping independent retailers make nutritious food shopping easy, practical and fun for consumers.”

Anissa Buckley, senior director at healthyAisles, said, “We believe this collaborative nutrition information system offers a best-in-class program that addresses shoppers’ growing need for specific dietary information—it’s exciting to see the program grow throughout the West.”

Guiding Stars was recently awarded patent protection for its algorithm that is grounded in evidence-based science and the most current guidelines and recommendations of leading national agencies such as the FDA and USDA. The system credits all edible foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. Food items are then awarded zero, one, two or three stars—one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value.

Vestcom is partnered with the USDA and has developed healthyAisles in conjunction with both USDA and FDA guidance. The database supports interpretation of more than 30 different attributes that can be mixed and matched to customize a balanced nutrition program.

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