- Kroger has soft-launched a new mobile app called OptUP that provides customers with nutritional information about the food they purchase at the grocery chain. The app is separate from Kroger’s branded app.
- OptUp provides product health scores based on the UK Nutrient Profiling Model developed by the Food Standards Agency, according to SPINS.
- The app, which has the tagline “Wellness Your Way,” features eight weeks’ worth of nutritional scores, alerts indicating which products are healthy, USDA nutrition facts, the ability for consumers to add products to a shopping list and, in some markets, live consultations with dietitians.
Consumers want to eat healthier, but they frequently have a hard time sorting through the clutter of nutrition claims and ingredients lists. Kroger’s OptUp app is one of a growing number of resources that claims make this process even easier.
Like other nutrition labeling systems, OptUp provides scores for a wide range of store products. Unlike other systems, these ratings plug into an interactive app that lets shoppers tailor their selections, substituting items and tracking their purchases as they try to achieve a better overall score. It's much more in-depth than Guiding Stars, the system developed by Hannaford that just rolled out across Ahold Delhaize's store chain, and more personalized than SmartLabel, the transparency labeling initiative undertaken by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration under commissioner Scott Gottlieb wants to beef up standards around claims like "healthy" and "natural," and to help manufacturers lower sodium counts in the foods they make. The FDA has also developed a new Nutrition Facts label geared toward increased transparency and readability, though it just pushed back compliance from 2020 to 2021 amid considerable pushback from the industry.
Studies have shown that the Guiding Stars program boosts the purchase of healthier foods, as well as stores’ healthy image, which is a positive sign for the fledgling OptUp app and for the Kroger brand in general, which has demonstrated a commitment to health and wellness in recent years.
Kroger’s app not only has an interactive component that will likely encourage engagement – customers receive visual indicators of their changing scores as time goes on, for example – it also features live consultations with dietitians in core markets. These value-added services can be effective loyalty builders.
Kroger may have some work to do to appease manufacturers turned off by systems that potentially rank their food unfavorably. Hannaford worked through this challenge by positioning Guiding Stars as a positive program that highlighted healthy products without calling out less-than-healthy ones.
Another possible challenge for Kroger is OptUp's visibility. The app is separate from the Kroger app, and customers may not see the value in downloading a separate program. Ideally, the company will eventually merge the two for one cohesive mobile experience that fits within Kroger’s overall digital initiatives.