- Harris Teeter has launched Free From 101, a new program that looks to encourage customers to make healthy food choices by identifying items that are free from preservatives, additives, antibiotics, artificial colors and sweeteners, according to the Shelby Report.
- The items will be identified with blue explanatory bib tags on shelves throughout the store, making it easy for shoppers to find free-from products without having to read every product ingredient label.
- Shoppers can also view the full list of 101 ingredients that the program tests for online.
Today's health-conscious consumers demand transparency from their grocery retailers, and are even willing to switch to a different store that they feel is more honest about its products. Harris Teeter's new Free From 101 program meets this need and saves customers time by clearly tagging free-from products on store shelves, a move that should capture shopper attention and strengthen brand loyalty.
This initiative is somewhat similar to Giant’s implementation of HowGood ratings. HowGood researches and rates products based on sustainablity as well as fair wages for employees, ethical animal treatment and environmental impact. The creators of HowGood estimate that if their ratings were included in every one of the more than 6,000 Ahold-Delhaize stores in the U.S., it could effectively promote 18 million more sustainable products every week, and shift 8% of America’s food stream toward better buying practices.
The jury is still out on how much consumers really are paying attention to labels, however. An Innova report showed that 75% of U.S. consumers said they read the nutritional and ingredient labels of food products and 91% say food and beverage options with recognizable ingredients are healthier. Still, much research has been done on consumer psychology, which has shown that nutritional labeling gives the organization “compelling reasons to be pessimistic” about how much it impacts purchases.
Still, these shelf tags would be much easier to "read" than actual labels on the back of product packaging, and shoppers will likely appreciate this investment in transparency. It will be interesting to see if other grocers invest in similar in-store programs, and if these rating systems will negatively impact sales of traditionally unhealthy products.