The US food and beverage industry last week launched a new initiative to support the government's dietary guidelines, while at the same time promoting products that meet certain nutrition criteria.
Take a Peak, an in-store messaging program, aims to reach consumers where they ultimately make their food choices: in supermarket aisles.
Introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association (GMA/FPA), the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and MatchPoint Marketing, the initiative aims to provide easy to follow advice in order to show consumers how small, progressive changes in their purchasing habits and diets can improve their health.
Initially launched in 17 states and 2,000 retail locations, Take a Peak is expected to reach millions of consumers through point-of-purchase messages and materials, including aisle banners, informational kiosks, floor graphics, educational coupon booklets and other displays in grocery stores nationwide. The number of retail locations is expected to grow throughout 2007.
"This one-of-a-kind program, which combines the government's nutrition expertise and our industry's marketing prowess, is an important collaboration that will benefit individual consumers, as well as our nation's public health," Cal Dooley, president and CEO of GMA/FPA.
The nutritional criteria for Take a Peak are based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPyramid food guidance system, FDA labeling regulations, as well as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan endorsed by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.
Products that meet these criteria will be featured in the program, in order to provide a "realistic and practical way" for consumers to make the transition to a healthier diet.
For a food or beverage to participate in the Take a Peak campaign, it must "provide a meaningful contribution toward reaching the total daily amount required within the five food groups or oils based on a 2,000 calorie diet," said GMA/FPA.
Products featured must also limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt, to conform to maximum levels that are the current FDA defined disclosure levels for individual foods.
The groups said Take a Peak did not include the total fat criteria for individual foods and beverages because the new message in MyPyramid is "choose fats wisely" and "make the most of your fat sources from fish, nuts and vegetable oils" .
Beverages that are eligible for the campaign are 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice, as well as non-fat, low-fat, and reduced fat milk. In addition to these, non-caloric beverages and beverages containing very few calories can participate in the program.
These include drinks with less than 20 calories per serving, such as water, unsweetened iced tea, diet soft drinks and powdered drink mixes.
"All our research shows that consumers are eager for healthy food choices and dietary information that will help them control the ingredients in their meals and support healthy eating at home," said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of FMI.
"I am very pleased to see the food industry taking up the challenge to help consumers make healthier choices," said Mike Johanns, Secretary of USDA at the launch of the campaign on Thursday.
"We've had a tremendous response to MyPyramid and I'm confident that as awareness increases, so will the health of Americans," he added.
To access the Take a Peak website, click here .