Label Insight and AHA collaborate to uncover heart healthy products

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Products with the Heart-Check mark are growing at a faster rate than their category averages, according to Nielsen sales data. ©GettyImages/Goran13
Products with the Heart-Check mark are growing at a faster rate than their category averages, according to Nielsen sales data. ©GettyImages/Goran13
Label Insight has worked with the American Heart Association (AHA) to provide a new data-driven Heart Check Standard Certification Industry View to help brands, retailers, government agencies, and researchers better understand which products are heart healthy and qualify for the Heart-Check seal.

Products bearing the Heart-Check Certification have had to meet nutritional requirements set by the AHA such as 20mg or less of cholesterol, sodium limits depending on the food category, saturated fat content of 1g or less and 15% or less calories from saturated fat, and many others.

Based in Chicago, Label Insight provides data transparency for CPG product information using the company's proprietary data science and machine learning capabilities to capture product labeling information and create more than 22,000 unique custom attributes per product. 

The AHA seal

Its collaboration with the AHA fell directly in line with the company’s mission when it started 15 years ago as Dagan Xavier and his brother Anton founded Label Insight out of necessity to help their father transition to a heart healthy diet to manage his heart condition.

“We started the company for one single reason, which was trying to find products in a supermarket that were heart healthy,”​ Xavier, co-founder and executive vice president, data as product, at Label Insight, told FoodNavigator-USA.

“We are going full circle and our relationship with the AHA and the opportunity to be able to create this view into the food supply utilizing those American Heart Association guidelines goes back to being able to do this for my father.

“The best thing about this is someone else sees value in that. The American Heart Association is saying, ‘absolutely, this is valuable to us’.”

How the data platform works

The Heart Check Standard Certification Industry View created by Label Insight has the ability to determine which products meet or do not meet the Heart-Check Certification Program nutrition requirements and why.

“The fact that we’ve been able to add these standards, which are really quite complicated and based on a per category basis using varying nutrient ingredient filters and criterias, means that we’re able to with a click of a button identify all the products that are heart healthy in the food supply,”​ Xavier said.

Attributes start at a very high level and move down the layering funnel based on the given definition from the previous attribute. At the bottom of the funnel, the final attribute shows whether a product is likely to meet the requirements for Heart-Check standard certification for a given food category.

“We’re able to essentially boil all their criteria down into a query. We can then programmatically and automatically apply that [query],”​ he continued

The end result is a view into a range of products and if they adhere to the specific nutritional requirements that can assist brands in understanding how they can reformulate their products to meet the Heart-Check requirements.

 The technology is instant and precise, according to Label Insight. Using the Label Insight’s data platform the company discovered a few products that no longer met the nutritional requirement of the Heart-Check Certification Program.

If we follow that crumb back​, it’s [usually] because they’ve ended up changing their packaging or reformulating something. –  that’s an extremely valuable data point for the AHA because it’s their credibility that’s on  the line here,”​ Xavier said.

Industry and consumer impact

This launch of this type of data platform also comes at a time when the US CPG industry is in the midst of a massive nutrition facts label reform with an extended deadline of Jan. 1, 2020 for food manufacturers with more than $10m in annual food sales and Jan. 1, 2021 for companies with less than $10m in annual food sales.

Some companies are facing reformulation and updates to packaging and the Heart Check Standard Certification Industry View serves as a tool for brands seeking heart healthy designation. 

“Unless you have an automated or scalable way to be consistently capturing the updates and the data, and apply these standards, you can’t tell if these products did qualify and still qualify," ​Xavier added.

Consumers are prioritizing shopping for healthy foods and the Heart Check mark provides a way for brand and retailers to better connect with shoppers.

Currently, there are nearly 1,000 products certified by the Heart-Check Certification Program and across multiple categories, products with the Heart-Check mark are outpacing their respective category averages, Nielsen sales data found.

For example, within the sleepy cereal & granola category​ that’s been declining at a rate of 2%, products with Heart-Check certification are up 12%. In "processed meats,"​ the category is growing 4%, but products with Heart-Check certification are up 12 percent. 

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