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Walmart unveils ‘Great for You’ icon

Icon to appear on hundreds of food items and provide simple way to make healthier food choices

4/8/2013, 10:32 p.m. | Updated on 4/8/2013, 10:32 p.m.

The icon serves as a guide to help people make incremental changes to their diet by encouraging more nutritious food choices. The science-based criteria use a two-step process. Step one focuses on encouraging people to eat more fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. Examples of these items include brown rice, 1 percent milk, raw almonds and 93 percent lean ground beef. Step two limits the amount of total, trans- and saturated fats, sodium and added sugars that can be found in items such as sweetened oatmeal, granola bars, flavored yogurt and frozen meals.

“When it comes to food, our customers want a variety of choices, but they also want help identifying healthier options. Customers asked us to make healthier food choices easy, while keeping prices low,” said Jack Sinclair, executive vice president of Grocery for Walmart. “The nutritionists we engaged told us to make the criteria tough and significant. We feel confident the ‘Great for You’ icon balances those objectives and will become an important tool Walmart shoppers can use to fill their pantries with healthier food at prices our customers can afford.”

The criteria have undergone an extensive evaluation process using thousands of grocery items to help ensure that only nutritious items in each grocery category receive the “Great for You” icon. One evaluation compared Walmart’s criteria with what people in America commonly consume using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of more than 4,000 food items.

The development of the “Great for You” icon is part of an initiative Walmart launched in 2011 to make food healthier and more affordable. The initiative includes reformulating packaged food to reduce sodium and added sugars, and eliminate industrially produced fats by 2015, making healthier food more affordable by providing savings on produce and reducing the price premium on better-for-you food items, developing solutions for food deserts, and increasing charitable support for nutrition education programs.

“At a time when obesity rates are the highest ever for Americans, especially Hispanics, Walmart’s new ‘Great for You’ symbol will help make eating healthy the easier choice,” said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. “In order to successfully help Latino children and families eat healthier, we hope other food companies will follow in Walmart’s footsteps and commit to increasing access to healthier food at a lower cost.”

Over the past year, Walmart has been working with private label brand and national brand suppliers to make progress on its goals. To date, some of the highlights include:

Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015

Walmart has been working to reduce sodium and added sugars in 165 food items. Some of the items reformulated in the last year include:

  • 15 percent sodium reduction in Great Value ketchup
  • An average of 15 percent sodium reduction in Great Value canned vegetables, including corn, green beans and carrots
  • More than 70 percent sodium reduction in fresh steaks, roasts and other muscle cuts of beef

Thomas added, “These reductions are a clear sign of how we can make meaningful changes to the food we sell by making simple modifications to the products in our stores. We can significantly reduce sodium and sugar without having to sacrifice quality and taste.”

These efforts also include developing a survey of more than 20,000 food items in key categories, such as grain, dairy, soups and beverage products to establish a benchmark to track the progress being made on the reformulation of Great Value and national brand packaged food items. Progress toward the company’s goals will be reported in Walmart’s annual Global Responsibility Report.