Grocery Business

 

October 21, 2013

 

Metro to label “healthy” products

 

Metro Inc. is targeting the large proportion of Canadians who care about what they eat but don’t have the tools to make the right choices. Starting in mid-October the company is putting special labels on products that have superior nutritional value.

 

SKUs in four categories (breakfast, dairy products, beverages and frozen) will feature a happy face logo that indicates whether they are “healthy” or “very healthy.” Recipes and tips will be also supplied to customers, with the program supported by an extensive campaign that will run across all major media platforms. The initiative, which draws on similar efforts by Loblaws and US retailers, is unrolling in Metro and Metro Plus stores in Quebec and Ontario and could be expanded if initial results are promising.

 

According to Mark Giroux, the company’s vice-president (chief marketing and communications officer), a panel headed by Laurette Dubé, director of the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics, has already evaluated 4,500 Metro SKUs in 35 categories, of which 500 were rated as “very healthy,” and 1,100 as healthy. Low rated SKUs will be unlabeled.

 

“This program will help us stand out, because it is not just a marketing move, it stems from a real desire to help customers eat better,” says Giroux. “The friendly logos make it fun. For example I can see a scenario in which a mother tells her child to pick any breakfast cereal that has a happy face on it.”

 

The initiative meets a growing need says Giroux. According to a survey of 502 respondents conducted by HealthFocus International, half of Canadians (52 percent) responsible for the food shopping in their homes, say they pay attention to what they eat. But only 60 percent of Canadian consumers, say they have a good knowledge of health and nutrition. Thirty percent say that they are often confused about what to eat to remain healthy.

 

Metro’s latest push comes at time when the Quebec-based retailer has been struggling to differentiate itself from incursions by non-traditional food players. While profit growth continued unabated during the third quarter, total and same store sales fell slightly in a growing market. Metro’s Ontario outlets, 15 of which are undergoing a major reorganization, have been particularly hard hit. Company officials hope the new campaign will help reverse some of those trends.

 

peter@peterdiekmeyer.com

 

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