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    Organic, the healthier choice? 

    The Master's of Public Health Degrees Online, an independent online resource for public health students, according to their website, recently released this infographic comparing and contrasting Organic and Conventional farming - what do you think?

    Organic Food


    Food by the Numbers

    Food by the Numbers4.46/5: Average satisfaction score of supermarkets according to Retail Feedback Group’s (RFG’s) 2014 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study. The Study also found engaging shoppers at the front-end and in aisles are immensely valuable tools to increase customer experience, a position supported by the finding 65% of shoppers indicate cashiers have a positive impact on their shopping experience.

    28.2%: Percent of participants (958) adhering to two different Mediterranean diets that no longer fit the criteria for metabolic syndrome after a mean follow up period of 4.8 years. However, the diets did not have a statistical impact on decreasing the likelihood of developing the condition. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal tracked the long-term effect of two Mediterranean diets (one with high virgin olive oil consumption and the other with high nut consumption) compared to a control low-fat diet.

    49%: Percent of Americans that consume a sandwich on any given day. With so much sandwich consumption author Dan Pashman investigated ways to increase the enjoyment from the sandwich experience and address issues such as “the sliced cucumber conundrum,” where slippery sandwich components are likely to fall out of a sandwich. (For those curious, Pashman suggests solving the issue with “the silver lining of greens,” where slippery sandwich components are separated by layers of greens rather than placed in a sandwich together.)

    8%: Share of the beer market held by craft breweries. With overall US beer consumption remaining relatively flat craft brewers have managed to increase their share of the market through double-digit annual growth, with brew pubs and microbreweries opening greater than one location per day.

    €75 million: Announced total spending Dutch private equity firm Pulsar Network Capital plans on investing in 15 to 25 Western European companies that operate in the sustainable foods, food nutrition, food-tech, or ag-tech markets. Network Capital will target companies it expects can become market leaders through a series of investments. Partner Patrick Driessen expects “The market for healthy food will grow with over 20% annually and will reach US$ 1 trillion 2017,” adding, “The new fund is one of the first specialized funds in this growth market and as such offers a fruitful basis for healthy returns on investment.”

    1/10: Share of grocery shoppers that bought at least some grocery items online in the last 30 days according to Brick Meets Click consumer research. With nearly 4% of all grocery shopping occurring online currently, and forecasts of online sales accounting for anywhere between 11% and 17% of the total grocery market in ten years, this growth market has attracted much attention and speculation.

    $30 million: Amount the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has appealed for to support food supply resilience and recovery in the three West African countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea) most affected by the recent Ebola outbreak.

    21st: Annual world championship for porridge held October 10th. Porridge, the traditional Scottish breakfast dish, has seen a resurgence in recent years, with almost half of all Britons aged 16-24 starting their day with porridge according to research firm Mintel.

    £240 million: Expected sales of Halloween related food and drink sales in the UK, up from £230 million last year, according to Mintel. From 2009 to 2013 there was a 263% increase in food and drinks that that mentioned Halloween in the UK – illustrating how quickly the UK has adopted the tradition that has traditional North American roots.

    22: Number of retail depots United Biscuits will visit as part of an effort to engage with retailers regarding methods of displaying and stocking the company’s products to encourage impulse purchases. The company has invested £4 million into field sales teams to encourage the adoption of greater impulse purchasing for savory biscuits, which United Biscuits believes is a latent market.


    Health & Wellness Spotlight: Snacking and Weight Management

    A recent FoodBusinessNews article outlines several significant findings from research conducted by Packaged Facts as part of their “Weight management: U.S. consumer mindsets” report.

    Packaged Facts found:

    1. The Number 1 consumer priority when seeking to lose weight is reforming their snacking habits.
    2. 2/3rds of consumers limit their snack quantities
    3. 62% set boundaries of how often they will snack

    Additionaly, in the last 5 years consumers have made it a priority to eat several small meals a day with planned snacks in between meals that emphasize healthier options. 

    Although overeating at meals is ranked as the fourth most likely reason for being overweight, eating smaller or moderately portioned meals no longer ranks high on the list of actions dieters undertake – with only 1/3rd of dieters taking this step. David Sprinkle, researcher at Packaged Facts, suggests, “Instead of controlling what they eat at mealtimes, today’s consumers focus on changing their snacking habits in order to achieve weight loss success, a strategy that reflects the increasing importance of snacking in America today.”

    Other trends include a greater focus on checking food labels to avoid foods containing high levels of fat, sugars and sodium as well as attempting to avoid foods perceived to be processed.

    Using the LabelINSIGHT platform - we focused on highlighting the most common marketing claims being made on traditional snack packaging today as well as wholesome snacks.

    Traditional SnacksBetween the two graphs, Traditional Snacks above and Wholesome Snacks below you can see the similarities and differences between marketing approaches to the particular type of snack products.

    Wholesome Snacks

    As overall Health & Wellness continue to be top of mind for a growing number of consumers it will be interesting to continue to connect common day health trends with our live view of the grocery market place, highlighting how different products are being marketing to consumers, which ingredients are gaining in popularity and the overall nutritional values consumers begin to pay special attention to.



    To access FoodEssentials' LabelINSIGHT click here.

    A Live View Into The Marketplace


    Food by the Numbers

    50%+: Percent of Americans over 18 who drink 3 or more cups of coffee daily according to a 2010 report by the National Coffee Association. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute recently found that higher coffee consumption, whether caffeinated or not, is linked to lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes. This suggests that enzymes other than caffeine in coffee contribute to liver health – welcome news for coffee drinkers.

    4: Pillars to Walmart’s new food sustainability efforts. The four pillars include: affordability, accessibility, healthiness, and safety and transparency. Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, said, “We’ve learned on our sustainability journey that we’re most successful when our initiatives create social and environmental value and business value at the same time. Food is our number one category worldwide, and we are going to do even more in our grocery business in the years ahead. Paving a sustainable future for food is necessary for society and our business.”

    0: Effect on mood “comfort food” has according to research by the psychology department at the University of Minnesota. The research induced bad moods in college students (watching sad movies) and tested the impact of eating “comfort foods.” Their research found that the “comfort foods” resulted in the same impact on moods as those subjects who ate food they enjoyed that would not be called “comfort foods.” Lastly, students who ate nothing had the same effect on mood as those who ate the “comfort food.” This research challenges the notion some foods have psychological effects to improve moods.

    8/10: Share of 2,000 UK consumers polled by market research firm Canadean that believe fruits and vegetables provide equal health benefits to supplements aimed at weight loss or other health benefits. The survey additionally found that 27% of respondents believed health claims on functional foods and drinks were often exaggerated.

    1-2%: Amount of the US population with peanut allergies. Research by Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have added a culprit to the increase in peanut allergies – skin exposure. The research found that in addition to exposure through breast milk and/or house dust, skin exposure likely contributes to “sensitization,” which makes the skin reactive to antigens such as peanuts.

    60: Average reduction in calories (a 12% drop) on new menu items in 2013 compared to new items in 2012 according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It is believed that rules requiring chain restaurants to post calories on their menus in many cities have led to increased consciousness and that federal rules that will expand these labels as part of the Affordable Care Act have likely resulted in restaurants modifying their menus to reduce calories. The analysis published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine covered more than 19,000 menu items in 66 chains and found that most reductions were in new items while signature dishes had lower/no calorie reductions. With an excess of fewer than 200 calories daily potentially resulting in obesity, a 60 calorie reduction is hoped to offer the potential to create significant change with time.

    214 million tons: Amount of sweeteners consumed around the world in 2013. 80% (180 million tons) of the sweeteners were sugar of high-fructose corn syrup while 20% (34 million tons) were low and non-caloric sweeteners according to the market research firm Canadean. While low and non-caloric sweeteners are growing in market share and consumer attention, this sector faces many challenges to adoption including customer perceptions and taste preferences. In 2013, soft drink manufacturers used 700 tons of stevia-based ingredients, while total aspartame and Acesulfame K use was 21,000 tons (12,300 tons and 8,700 tons respectively).

    32: Number of subjects in a study by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato published in Psychological Research, which found that test subjects who drank orange juice with tyrosine performed better when solving puzzles compared to those who received a placebo. Tyrosine, an amino acid found naturally in fruits, soybeans, spinach, eggs, and cottage cheese, potentially could be an inexpensive and healthy way to boost creativity and focus according to the research. Steve Jobs claims that his high fruit diet enabled his creativity and success might be substantiated by this research according to Colzato.

    $15.6 billion: Cost of major foodborne illnesses in the US according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service. The Service looked at 15 pathogens that represent 95% of all illnesses and deaths from foodborne illnesses where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could identify a pathogen cause. Food Safety News used the mean value in the ranges provided by the Economic Research Service to determine the $15.6 billion figure. The 15 pathogens are said to impact 8.9 million Americans annually, and the costs take into account factors such as outpatient and inpatient expenditures for medical care and lost income.

    2¢/ounce: Proposed tax on sugary drinks in San Francisco that will appear on November ballots. A similar one cent per ounce tax is proposed in Berkeley, California. According to the Associated Press, the California legislature has failed in at least 6 attempts to tax sweetened beverages in the past. The San Francisco initiative would reduce soft drink consumption by a third and raise $25 million annually for health education according to supporters.


    The Complexity of the Egg

    The egg may seem like a relatively straight-forward food product; however, a closer look at the egg market unearths an astounding amount of complexity and varying preferences. In the United States, per capita egg consumption has increased from 239.7 eggs in 1998 to 251.3 eggs 25 years later in 2013, and is expected to jump to 256.0 eggs this year according to the American Egg Board. Research by the International Egg Commission suggests that between 2001 and 2009 global egg production has increased 22.2%.

    Click to read more ...


    Food by the Numbers

    $500,000: Offer made by the FDA to anyone who can provide a concept that addresses the detection of Salmonella in minimally processed fresh produce. A panel from the FDA, CDC, and USDA will judge submissions and determine finalists before selecting a winner.

    $374 billion: Worldwide sales of snacks according to Nielson. Europe lead the way with $167 billion followed by North America with $124 billion. However, increased sales in developing nations outpace those of Europe and North America, with Latin American sales growing the fastest at 9%.

    1/4: Proportion of millennial Jews who keep Kosher according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. Interestingly, this is twice the rate of Kosher adherence of baby-boomers.

    24%: Reduced chance of developing pre-eclampsia in pregnant women who eat organic vegetables regularly according to a Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.

    45%: Percent of people in a Nielsen Health & Wellness study that ranked natural ingredients as a very important snack attribute – the largest share of any response. No artificial colors and no GMOs were tied for second with 44% each.

    200: More servings of vegetables those with low bitter sensitivity are likely to eat in a year compared to those with high sensitivity to bitter flavors according to a study by the University of Connecticut.

    5: Number of public schools in Indiana where Martin’s Supermarkets, a Midwestern chain, is teaming up with Dole Food Co. and Caito Foods, a grocery retailer and wholesale foods supplier, to supply fresh salad bars for breakfast and lunch to students.

    $774 billion: Size of the global health and wellness (H&W) sector according to Euromonitor International. This represents a 6.75% increase from 2013 and was fueled by healthier drink options, gluten-free offerings (16% growth), and infant formula, which grew faster than any other product in the category.

    2 miles: Length of a proposed underground pipe that could transport 600-700 cases worth of beer per hour from the De Halve Maan Brewery to its bottling plant. The Belgian Brewery has been located in Bruges since 1856 and the pipe would allow De Halve Maan to stay in center of Bruges, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

    72%: Percent of respondents who drink energy drinks in a survey conducted by the research firm Canadean in the United Kingdom who said there should be a restriction of the sale of energy drinks to children. Sales of energy drinks rose from 375M liters in 2010 to 500M liters in 2013 with 24% of respondents saying they drink energy drinks at least once a week.


    $52 Million in Grants Awarded to Organic and Local Food Economies by the USDA

    On September 29, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded over $52 million to support the growth of organic and local and regional food systems. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack explained, “Local and regional food systems are one of the pillars of our efforts to revitalize rural economies. Consumers are increasingly demanding more local and organics options. Investing in local and regional food systems supports the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers, especially smaller operations, while strengthening economies in communities across the country. Today’s announcement also improve access to fresh, healthy food for millions of Americans.”

    The grants were authorized through the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill) as well as several other food programs. The investments are seen as a commitment to strengthen the organic and local and regional food systems as well as an effort to improve access to healthy food options. $27 million of grants were awarded to expand marketing through the new Local Food Marketing Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) while $19 million was invested to producers and processors who have adopted organic standards to expand and market their products. Smaller investments were made to state agencies and academic institutions as well as other marketing and supportive programs. To read more about the USDA grants and the recipients click here.


    Giant Eagle: In Stores

    Giant EagleToday, we will discuss Giant Eagle's in store platform characterized by its retail dietitian services. 

    Take a look at these features:


    Dietitian Services: Personal Nutritional Counseling, Weight Loss and Diabetes Classes, Store Tours/"Aisle Excursions", and Gluten Free Counseling.

    Newsletter: "Be Well" health and wellness newsletter focused on health and wellness.

    Specialty Pharmacy: Pharmacy tailored for specialty ailments such as cancer or chronic conditions.

    Pharmacy: Typical in store pharmacy with prescription services, counseling, dietitian services, pet medications, Rx home delivery services, contact lenses, and immunizations. 

    NuVal Shelf Labels: Giant Eagle utilizes NuVal health labels. Each label "ranks a food’s overall nutritional value on a scale from 1 to 100 and is featured in a double hexagon design in the top right corner of the tag. The higher the score, the better the nutritional value." 

    Health and Wellness: Giant Eagle stores contain a seperate department entitled "Health and Wellness"; this department offers H&W related goods. 

    As you can see, Giant Eagle offers a solid selection of in store health and wellness features.  Next time, we will explore the online platform.  See you then!

    A Live View Into The Marketplace


    Paleo Diet Essentials 

    The Paleo Diet 101

    Would you like to return to your primal instincts, before a time of scales and counting calories, and eat like a caveman? That’s the diet some folks are jumping onboard with in the hopes of weight loss, more energy, and potentially reversing chronic illnesses. The Paleolithic "Paleo" Diet, was first recognized decades ago, but has recently had a dramatic resurgence with Loren Cordain’s bestselling book The Paleo Diet.  

    According to Google Trends, Paleo was the most searched diet of 2013. Its sales growth is set to dwarf that of other natural food trends over the next several years. The diet has broad appeal, from A-list celebrities Megan Fox, Jessica Biel, Matthew McConaughey, to four time MVP Lebron James who used it to drop 10 pounds and enter the 2015 NBA season leaner than ever.

    Add to the celebrity appeal the cult-like following of CrossFit enthusiasts, an exercise movement that strictly follows the Paleo Diet, and one can see why retailers and manufacturers such as alike are taking notice of this food tribe. For instance, Reebok, the major sponsor of the CrossFit Games is capitalizing on this impressive Paleo sales growth through their first foray into the food world with Reebok Bacon.

    The Science behind Paleo

    There are many theories about why our poor health as a nation is reaching epidemic proportions-- 66% of us are overweight, 33% are considered obese, and those numbers are only getting worse. The one that Paleo followers subscribe to is that the evolution of our bodies has not kept pace with that of food science. It’s not a coincidence that many modern diseases of civilization-- including autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rampant obesity-- have accompanied the global spread of industrialized food. That’s why the Paleo approach emphasizes returning to a more ancestral approach to eating.

    In the past, food was hard to come by and if we got our hands on some it was fresh and natural, both tenants of the Paleo diet. Any excess calories were stored as life sustaining fat, one pound of body fat = 3500 calories. Muscle on the other hand is expensive (no not because your Equinox membership runs 300$/month) I mean from a metabolic perspective, it requires a lot of energy to maintain, and the body’s energy currency is calories.

    The problem is, our bodies never adjusted properly to eating all the grains that we now farm.  As bestselling author of The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf puts it, “think of a 100-yard football field.  The first 99.5 yards are how long Homo-Sapiens spent as hunter-gatherers. As they became really good at hunting and gathering our bodies adapted to that lifestyle over thousands of years.  That last half-yard represents our species after the agricultural revolution, where our diet has shifted, but our genetics haven’t.”

    Many modern crash dieting techniques are interpreted by our bodies as periods of starvation. As we are evolutionarily programmed for survival not beach season, they will not simply shed life sustaining fat; they will do the opposite and get rid of expensive excess muscle. The Paleo diet intends to combat this typical crash dieting process which leads to indiscriminate weight loss by outlining a sustainable healthy diet and lifestyle. Now let’s dig into the nuts and bolts, how exactly does one eat like a caveman?

    The Paleo Diet is an effort to eat like we used to back in the day…WAY back in the day.  If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. This means anything we could hunt or find – meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, seeds, healthy fats and some fruits. Sorry, the sugar, junk food snacks, grains, dairy, legumes/beans, and alcohol will have to go!

    “Eating a Paleolithic diet is not about historical re-enactment,” John Durant writes in his book The Paleo Manifesto. “It is about mimicking the effect of such a diet on the metabolism with foods available at the supermarket.” According to this way of thinking, our metabolism was designed to deal with foods that approximate wild game and foraged plants. It wasn’t designed to deal with toast.

    The list of benefits is extensive and primarily focuses on reducing your risk for major diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.  Some evidence has also shown success in slowing or reducing the progression of some autoimmune diseases. Additional benefits have been touted as losing weight, improving sleep, improving or eliminating acne, increasing libido, increasing energy, and having overall better mental clarity.

    More recently the Paleo trend has expanded from just focusing on eating habits to applying these Neanderthal ways as an all-encompassing lifestyle.  This more holistic lifestyle approach could include wearing amber goggles while on your smartphone after 7pm; concerned that the blue light emitted from your phone causes disruptions in your natural sleep patterns.

    The Paleo Diet is certainly not without its critics though. There is some debate over the diet itself, but also it’s long-term environmental implications. The high consumption of animal proteins has triggered push back from some groups due to the taxing impact this could have on the environment. Some also argue that when avoiding foods such as dairy products, beans, and grains that the diet is missing out on important vitamins and minerals.

    “Food taboos are known from virtually all human societies,” a survey that ran a few years ago in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine observed. Such taboos must fulfill some deep—you might even say primal—human need. And this may be the best way to understand the paleo diet: as a set of food prohibitions for the Internet age.

    How LabelINSIGHT Can Help!

    Introducing the Paleo Attribute: Many products have capitalized on the popularity of the Paleo diet by adding a Paleo marketing claim to their packaging. However not all product position themselves this way but are still acceptable foods for this food tribe to eat. For this reasons LabelINSIGHT is proud to debut the ability to not only search and filter by which foods advertise as being Paleo but also all others that meet the stringent Paleo criteria.

    Our Nutritional Data Analyst Yisi Wang, RD, LD, MS explains how this is achieved; “We take our understanding of the commonly accepted tenants of the Paleo diet and translate this knowledge into our database language. Starting with our database of over 150,000 products we then eliminated any that contain the following banned ingredients: sugar and artificial sweeteners/flavors, grains and flours (including other off limit carbohydrates such as white potatoes), legumes/beans (including all soy products), dairy, refined vegetable oils, alcohol, etc.”

    Preparation for the Paleo Diet: The key to success with any diet is preparation. Self-control is a myth. Plan ahead! Clean out your pantry. Packaged foods have labels informing you ingredients, nutritive properties, allergen warnings and more. LabelINSIGHT captures, organizes and interprets this often confusing information ensuring you stay on track. Create shopping lists and receive dietary based product recommendations based on your custom Paleo diet. Easily avoid banned ingredients and products through LabelINSIGHT’s intuitive search and filter features.

    Maintain a Balanced Diet: Make sure you eat other foods that provide the same nutrients as those you're avoiding. Use LabelINSIGHT to create a shopping list so that your kitchen is stocked with alternatives that provide the nutrients required for a healthy diet. This will ensure that you are well nourished while avoiding your list of now-forbidden foods.

    Find Paleo Friendly Brands: Use LabelINSIGHT to access our database of over 150,000 products. Compare brands side by side with 10,000+ unique product attributes to see which ones fit into your new diet.

    Create a Social Support Network: Share insights about your progress on the Paleo diet, including interesting alternative products and recipes with friends using LabelINSIGHT's collaboration tool.  A Live View Into The Marketplace


    Giant Eagle: Mobile App

    Giant EagleGiant Eagle offers a Mobile App with extensive health and wellness features!

    Check them out:

    Giant Eagle Advantage Card: "Register your card with the app for a digital version that can be used in full-service checkout lanes. A Giant Eagle® cashier will scan your phone at checkout."

    Weekly Sale: "Quickly and easily view, sort and add weekly sale items to your shopping list, right from your phone.

 Weekly sales items are automatically updated for convenient, on-the-go shopping."

    eOffers: "Browse and “clip” eOffers (our digital coupons) to add them to the digital and physical versions of your Giant Eagle Advantage Card®."

    My Perks: "View your fuelperks!® and Beverage Club balances and check your progress toward rewards. You’ll always know when your fuelperks® are due to expire!"

    Shopping List: "Plan your next shopping trip and save time with our easy-to-use Shopping List feature. Access your lists at home or in the store on your mobile phone. Your lists will sync across the Giant Eagle app and"

    Recipes: "Search our extensive library of recipes, suitable for any meal, course or special occasion."

    Shopping History: "View past shopping trip amounts and savings, and add previously purchased items to your shopping list."

    Store Information: "Quickly find the Giant Eagle store nearest you, along with hours, weekly sales, contact information and details on new locations."

    My Account: "Easily create and manage your Giant Eagle account. Your Giant Eagle app and accounts will sync, saving everything at your fingertips for easy access, whether you’re at home or on the go!

 Now, you can use the app to opt-in to our Digital Receipt program."

    Pharmacy: "Providing Giant Eagle® customers with convenient access to their prescriptions has always been our priority. Now, the Giant Eagle® app makes managing those prescriptions easier than ever. Customers can perform a variety of pharmacy-related tasks, including refilling, transferring, and managing prescriptions."

    Tomorrow, we will analyze Giant Eagle's in-store platform. See you then!

    A Live View Into The Marketplace