If it tastes good, that’s not good enough
Ahold Delhaize is challenging itself to create healthier foods. The Netherlands-based grocery retail group, which operates Ahold Delhaize USA, set a goal to have 50 percent of its private brand sales coming from nutritious products by 2020. In 2017, the company reached 46 percent.
“We are doing it because we believe in it,” says Juan De Paoli, the senior vice president of private brands for Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA company that provide services for the grocery chains it operates, including Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion, Hannaford and Peapod. “It’s about challenging yourself and committing to be an advocate for the consumer.”
Reformulating and creating products to be healthier is challenging but one that Retail Business Services embraces for its private brands. It requires developing products with fewer undesirable ingredients but without sacrificing taste.
Jac Ross, vice president of private brands innovation for Retail Business Services, emphasizes that the healthier products must taste great — not good, great.
“Good is not enough,” Ross says. “Good is the enemy of great. Because if somebody settles on [a product] being just good enough, that suggests there is something after that.”
Ross recently oversaw a 50 percent reduction of sugar in private brand organic fruit punch and lemonade beverages, which are part of Ahold Delhaize USA’s Nature’s Promise line. The beverages were tested by a blind consumer panel, whose members couldn’t tell the difference between the regular products and the sugar-reduced products.
In the store brand commercial bakery line, sugar was reduced by 80 percent in English muffins, and salt was reduced by up to 35 percent in items like hoagie buns and potato rolls. In addition, high fructose corn syrup was reduced by more than 80 percent in more than 70 bakery items. Again, consumers testing the products did not notice the changes.
“It’s key for us to renovate and continue to renovate,” Ross says.
De Paoli says healthy products are a pillar for the company’s private brands. One of those highly regarded store brands is Nature’s Promise, a line of USDA-certified organic and free-from products. The brand will soon exceed $1 billion in annual sales.