With smartphones now omnipresent, what better way to encourage more healthful eating than with an app.
About a year after launching the OptUP app, which helps consumers make more informed, healthier retail purchases, Kroger Co. BB #:100073 Cincinnati, OH, counts more than 350,000 downloads, said Bridget Wojciak, category manager, retail nutrition solutions for Kroger Health.
“The average adult checks their phone 47 times per day. That’s why we went for an app,” Wojciak told attendees in April at the Produce For Better Health Foundation annual meeting. She expanded on the program in a May 15 interview.
She said Kroger has worked to improve the app in the year, to make it more usable and enjoyable.
“We’ve refined the personalized dietary tags, included even more relevant products, and added a social sharing feature,” she said, noting that Kroger has made a deliberate goal to “gamify” the app.
The components of the Nutrition Rating algorithm are grounded in evidence-based nutrition, Wojciak said. It includes calories, saturated fat, sugar, and sodium among “negative” nutrients; and fiber, protein, whole grains and fruit/vegetable/nut content as “positive” nutrients.
“I always get asked ‘What’s the hack’ to OptUP,” she said. “Fresh produce is always in green, so it’s a simple way to help your score.”
Wojciak said Kroger Health’s goal is to be a food authority with a more personalized approach.
“We believe strongly that food is medicine,” she said.
She added that the app will provide nutrition ratings and better-for-you suggestions at non-Kroger stores, as her team’s goal is to improve the health of all consumers and change the way American consumers eat.
Kroger store level dietitians and nutrition team are working with consumers every day on adopting and using the app, Wojciak said, and the company is promoting it heavily in Kroger’s hometown of Cincinnati.
She expects more people to download and use it this year.
“What I always find appealing is the passive aspect,” she said. “The app makes it as easy as possible. You get a score without ever typing something in. It requires no work for you to know the quality of the food you’re bringing into your home.”