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Issue Date: Vol. 44, No. 7, July 2004, Posted On: 7/19/2004


Kraft Hails Progress With Health & Wellness Initiatives


Emily Jed
Emily@vendingtimes.net

NORTHFIELD, IL - Kraft Foods recently reported on the progress it has made since announcing its global health and wellness initiatives last July. The company is implementing a wide-ranging program to modernize the nutrition profile of its portfolio, adjust its marketing practices and policies, provide consumers with more information to help them make informed food and activity choices, and advocate constructive public policy changes.

Kraft's action plans benefit from the guidance of its Worldwide Health & Wellness Advisory Council, a group of 10 recognized experts from key health and wellness disciplines.

"Our ongoing actions are part of a broader societal response to growing health and wellness concerns, including obesity," said Roger K. Deromedi, chief executive officer of Kraft Foods. "It's going to take a comprehensive approach that involves many sectors of society to truly accelerate the change that's needed. We're ready, as are many other food companies, to collaborate and cooperate with governments, policy experts, industries and communities around the world."

Among Kraft's latest initiatives are augmenting product nutrition and developing new items that address contemporary consumers' health and wellness needs. In less than a year, the company has reduced the fat content in, and made other changes to, about 200 existing, individual products in North America, which account for about 5% of Kraft's annual North American product volume.

While noting that this is only a beginning, Kraft estimates that, on an annualized basis, these changes will eliminate more than 30 billion calories from the 200 reformulated products.

As part of its program to reduce or eliminate trans fat, Kraft has reformulated a number of products to meet the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's per-serving standard for 0 gm. of trans fat. Reformulated items include "Triscuit" crackers and "Reduced Fat Oreo" cookies. The company expects to roll out additional products under this program throughout the remainder of 2004 and into 2005.

In addition, Kraft has fortified some products to help address specific nutritional deficiencies in various countries. Since mid-2003, the company has added to certain products the equivalent amount of calcium found in more than 550 million glasses of milk and the amount of iron found in more than 600 million servings of cooked spinach.

Over the past year, Kraft has introduced or acquired a number of new products with a health and wellness focus, including Veryfine's "Fruit20" flavored waters, "Kraft StringUms" string cheese made with 2% milk, "Balance GoMix" energy snack mix, and "Kool-Aid Jammers 10," with only 10 calories per serving.

After conducting consumer research and gathering other stakeholder input, Kraft plans to implement a new, two-fold approach to smaller packages, rather than its earlier plan to cap the portion size of single-serve packages.

First, the company is offering a broad range of portion-size choices to meet consumers' varied needs, including snacks in small packages like its new "Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs."

Second, Kraft will use a new approach to  nutrition labeling on its snacks and beverage packages that contain up to four servings. Specifically, in the U.S., Kraft plans to provide labels that communicate the nutrition content of an entire package, so consumers don't have to "do the math" themselves (as with some current labels). This approach supports the U.S. FDA's recent call for food companies to enhance labeling on packages in a way that helps consumers make informed choices.

Selected smaller packages outside the U.S., where regulations differ, will also carry enhanced information, including the number of servings and total calories in each package.

The company has developed locally appropriate guidelines for vending distributors to use for Kraft products sold in school vending machines. For example, in the U.S., the guidelines are: 35% or less of total calories from fat, 10% or less of total calories from a combination of saturated and trans fat, and 35% or less of total calories from sugars.

Kraft has eliminated advertising and promotion in schools in the U.S. and most parts of the world, and plans to end them everywhere by the end of this year.

The company is implementing a program to provide nutrition labeling on all products worldwide, including markets where it's not legally required. All of the company's U.S. and Canadian products are labeled, and about half of its products sold outside these countries now have nutrition labels.

Kraft is gaining valuable external perspectives on health and wellness by engaging with key stakeholders, including its Worldwide Health & Wellness Advisory Council and legislative and regulatory officials.

The company has initiated community-based nutrition and activity programs in a number of markets worldwide. U.S. initiatives include "Triple Play," a five-year, after-school health and wellness program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America funded by Kraft and The Coca-Cola Co., and Salsa Sabor y Salud, a healthy lifestyle program for Latino families conducted in partnership with the National Latino Children's Institute.

Among the policy objectives the company supports are the restoration of physical activity and nutrition education in schools; expansion of well-coordinated, government and professional-sponsored consumer education programs; and additional medical and behavioral research to identify effective solutions.

Additional information on Kraft's health and wellness initiatives is available online from the company's corporate website at kraft.com/responsibility/nhw.htm.

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