Last month I joined Walmart’s Healthy Food Team at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) in Philadelphia, where we gave an update on the company’s progress on its five commitments. We were pleased to share these accomplishments with hundreds of registered dietitians and nutrition professionals who were there, and now I’m happy to share them with you.
- Walmart has removed 1.3 million pounds of sodium from more than 500 foods across three categories.
- We helped shoppers save $1.1 billion on produce in 2011 and are on track to meet this goal again in 2012.
- Walmart opened 53 stores in the last year serving rural and urban areas in food deserts (or urban areas with little or no access to fresh and affordable foods), bringing our total to 275 and putting us on target to meet or exceed our goal of 300 stores in food deserts by 2016.
- The Walmart Foundation has donated more than $15 million to nutrition education programs.
But one of the most exciting things we shared is our success with Great for You, a simple icon that appears on the front of select products, making it easier for shoppers to identify healthier foods.
In developing Great for You, we spent months talking to shoppers. We learned – and no big surprise – that they’re often strapped for time and shopping on a budget. But the information on labels is confusing, and they wanted the right information to help them quickly and easily identify healthier foods.
The Great for You icon is intended to take out some of the guesswork, making nutritional recommendations from major authoritative bodies – including the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Institute of Medicine, and the Food and Drug Administration – readily available in one clear, simple icon.
For a food or beverage to qualify for the Great for You icon, it must contain a food group that the Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans consume more of – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, seafood, and low-fat dairy – and not exceed certain levels of total, saturated and trans fats, sodium, or added sugars.
Figuring out which products qualified wasn’t a simple task. Walmart evaluated more than 4,000 of its private brand foods and beverages, of which approximately 32 percent qualified for Great for You. If you exclude fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meat, roughly 22 percent of Great Value and Marketside food and beverages will also carry the icon. Many of you may have noticed the signs carrying the icon in your produce sections earlier this summer, and the first products hit the shelves in September.
In addition to Great for You appearing in stores, the team has also been busy creating 30 delicious Great for You recipes. My family has whipped up many of these new recipes, which are easy and take at most 20 minutes. I can attest that the recipes have been a huge hit with all of my kids. Sloppy Joes with Mango Salsa so far is the favorite!
I am looking forward to 2013 and continuing the journey with Walmart to make the foods they sell healthier, and healthier foods more affordable for families across this country.