Sylvia Rowe, chair of NAMA's Nutrition Advisory Council
Deanne Brandstetter, vice president of nutrition and wellness for Compass Group North America
During the past few years, nutrition has been a central issue to food retailers, from policies affecting snacks in schools to calorie labeling. In 2005, NAMA developed FitPick to help vending operators and consumers identify products that met recognized nutrition guidelines. This year, NAMA unveiled a new FitPick at the OneShow in Chicago, Ill., on April 9th at the session “Nutrition Update: Meet The New FitPick.”
Consumers demand healthy
“Food law will be as hot in ten years as environmental law is today,” said Sylvia Rowe, chair of NAMA's Nutrition Advisory Council. She took operators into the history of nutrition standards and today’s consumer demand for healthy foods. She expects that food labeling and nutrition will only grow more popular and even says that by 2015, operators can expect dietary guidelines to include fewer sugars, more sustainability and a sharper focus on social justice regarding food production. The argument: consumers are driving demand for healthy products, so operators need to adjust to those demands.
Session attendee Dean Prather of Quality Vending Co. located in Kansas City, Mo., expressed the need for a federal standard. “The FitPick standards are important to our industry,” he said. “The one thing I hope for is to see standardization across the board.” Kansas City boarders both Missouri and Kansas and Prather said that it’s difficult to deal with different regulations from the states. Not only that, but Prather has noticed a sales drop with a lack of healthy products to offer. “As manufacturers start coming up with healthier products that people are more interested in purchasing, we will have a full come around,” he concluded.
Crane introduced its FitPick branded machine during the session. The Crane machine, stocked with all FitPick products and the FitPick logo, joins other companies such as U-Select and Seaga in offering a FitPick-oriented machine.
During the session, Roni Moore, vice president of marketing and communications, revealed NAMA’s upgraded FitPick SELECT that is designed to specifically help vending operators meet changing school guidelines. FitPick SELECT uses recognizable stickers, labels and clings that can be placed on the machine under each SKU to make it simpler for users to identify FitPick SELECT items, but most importantly, no changes to the machines need to be made.
Moore reminded operators that in order to meet the new Smart Snacks in School Standards, they needed to provide snacks that contain: 200 calories or less, 8 grams or less of fat, 2 grams or less of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 18 grams or less of sugar and 200 milligrams or less of sodium. Additionally, any food sold in schools must meet at least one of the following criteria: be a “whole grain-rich” grain product, have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food, be a combination food that contains at least one fourth cup fruit and/or vegetable or contain 10 percent of the daily value (DV) of a nutrient of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D or dietary fiber).
NAMA has provided a list of FitPick approved food items; however, the list is not comprehensive. Operators can use the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Product Calculator in order to gauge if their items meet the health standards for schools.
NAMA has created a new Healthy Vending Leadership Committee to ensure operators have a voice in nutrition programming. Led by Deanne Brandstetter, vice president of nutrition and wellness for Compass Group North America, the committee is made up of industry members with experience in vending and micro markets and NAMA is encouraging operators to take part in the committee. NAMA also announced during the session that it is in a “comment period” for user feedback. Operators have until July to contact Roni Moore or Michael Bittner to submit comments, questions or concerns.