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ShopRite, Aldi Commit to Free From.

Byline: Lawrence Aylward

Two of the nation's grocers----ShopRite and Aldi----recently introduced initiatives that embrace the free-from movement.

In December, ShopRite, which operates more than 270 stores in the eastern United States, launched Wholesome Pantry, a new own brand of free-from and organic products that will include a mountainous 300 SKUs by the time the rollout concludes in a few months. Marketed as Wholesome Pantry and Wholesome Pantry Organic, ShopRite said the lines are designed as an "accessible alternative" for customers seeking cleaner ingredients and simpler labeling.

Wholesome Pantry's free-from line includes products void of 110 ingredients and contains no artificial additives, flavors or preservatives. The organic line complies with standards set by the USDA National Organic Program.

Loren Weinstein, ShopRite's director of private label, says the brand's introduction represents a major commitment from ShopRite to free-from and organic foods.

"We're committed to the brand and committed to growing it over time with as many items as needed based on what consumers are looking for," Weinstein notes. "There is really no limit on the items we want to add to the brand."

The Wholesome Pantry line includes products found in nearly every aisle, including frozen, produce, dairy and meat. It also includes more than 35 snack varieties, such as Almond Energy Mix and Organic Banana Chips.

Wholesome Pantry has been in the works for two years.

Weinstein says ShopRite's store brand decision-makers went to the drawing board to come up with not only free-from and organic products that hit on current taste trends, but also products that deliver on quality and value.

Shortly after 2017 arrived, Aldi rolled out its "Hello, Healthy" initiative, which includes an expansion of its fresh produce, organic and free-from offerings at its 1,600 stores in 35 states. Last December, Aldi conducted a survey of more than 1,000 consumers and found that 56 percent of New Year's resolutions are based around healthier eating, weight loss or fitness. But Aldi also found that 91 percent of Americans who make such resolutions fail to maintain them through the year, mainly due to a lack of planning and the perceived high costs associated with healthy food.

So to help its customers maintain their resolutions to eat healthier, Aldi, known for its affordable own-brand offerings, developed the "Hello, Healthy" initiative, which also includes an online resource to assist its customers with weekly meal plans, new recipes, videos and tips on how to help customers plan healthy weekly meals and save money by using the retailer's products as ingredients.

"We want to be an ally in healthy living for our shoppers," says Liz Ruggles, Aldi's spokeswoman. "Aldi is always looking for ways to improve and expand its offerings so healthy choices are easy to find and are easy on [consumers'] budgets."

Aldi is touting that it has eliminated added MSG, certified synthetic colors and partially hydrogenated oils from all of its store brands.

"That means that 90 percent of our products are free of these ingredients," Ruggles says.

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Author:Aylward, Lawrence
Publication:Progressive Grocer's Store Brands
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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