Lee Marvin had his Dirty Dozen. The Kroger Co. goes eight times further with “Free from 101,” a list of ingredients and food additives it is banishing from its private-label natural products.
Hundreds of products manufactured by the Cincinnati grocer and its copackers were reformulated to eliminate 101 additives deemed undesirable. “The list is pretty reflective of what our customers are telling us they don’t want in their food,” according to John Cowan, senior coordinator-natural foods. Objections to methylene chloride and erythorbic acid undoubtedly came from shoppers with chemistry backgrounds. High-fructose corn syrup is opposed by a broader segment of natural-foods buyers, he says.
The purge coincides with a rebranding of Kroger’s natural and organic store brands. The Naturally Preferred private label, introduced in 2000, has been replaced with Simple Truth. Likewise, the six-year-old Private Selection Organic line has been replaced by Simple Truth Organic.
“Today, there are close to 250 Simple Truth items, either organic or free from 101,” Cowan. Thirty product categories are involved, with 40 expected by next year.
New packaging incorporates an at-a-glance nutrition panel on the front of Simple Truth products. The panel, which augments the Nutrition Facts information on the back of packages, is consistent with the Nutrition Keys program introduced last year by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Per-serving information on calories, total fat, sugar and other components are displayed.