‘If it’s on our shelf, it’s true’ would earn shopper trust

March 07, 2011

Dishonest claims on food packages for youngsters draws ire of advocacy group.

If America is to push back hard against diabetes and obesity, food suppliers have to ‘get real’ about what’s in their children’s food packages and retailers have to call them out when they try to mislead.

Stores that play ‘bad cop’ to suppliers acting fast and loose with ‘better for you’ product claims can throw them off the shelves, penalize them with lesser category positions, or impose fees. Some shoppers might complain because they only care about taste. But The Lempert Report believes stores would serve most shoppers well when they enforce honest communications and earn more trust as gateway resources.

‘If it’s on our shelf, it’s true,’ would be a strong marketplace position for supermarkets competing with all kinds of stores for trips today.  Walmart has already taken strides in this direction with its plan to sell healthier branded and private-label foods and to “develop strong criteria for a simple front-of-package seal,” it said.  

Suddenly, Walmart would stand for more than price. Its foods would be more healthful, and its stores would be seen as on the side of consumers. All of which pressures supermarkets to act responsibly and become more than distribution outlets with cash registers.

How much is this no-nonsense retail position needed with children’s foods?
A Prevention Institute study, Claiming Health:  Front-of-Package Labeling of Children’s Foods, revealed “84% of the children’s food products it examined failed to meet basic dietary recommendations and nutritional standards,” according to Food Safety News.

Of 58 products studied with a ‘better for you’ claim, just nine met the nutrition criteria set by U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the National Academies of Science.

Among other findings:  95% had added sugar, 57% were high in sugar, 53% were low in fiber, 36% of prepared foods and meals were high in sodium, 24% of prepared foods were high in saturated fats, the FSN account noted.

Now is the time to firmly tell manufacturers to stop their child’s play.