Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket chain, launched a new nutrition app last month called OptUp, designed to help its customers make smarter purchasing decisions.
The app also pairs customers with nutrition experts in some core markets to further support them in their purchasing decisions. “OptUp takes the items you buy at Kroger on your Kroger Plus card and gives you a total [shopping cart] score that shows you how healthy your basket is,” Colleen Lindholz, president of the chain’s pharmacy division, said in a recent interview.
The app will calculate the health value of each food item a customer purchases and make suggestions for healthier options to try at their next visit to the market.
The app relies on an algorithm that’s been vetted by the University of Cincinnati. It rates each food item on a scale of 1 to 100, based on the health of the item compared to similar products. The swaps are not intended as a 180-degree pivot for customers with less than ideal dietary preferences. Instead, it works to slowly upgrade the customer to healthier versions of their regular choices.
“We’re trying to help our customers make better food choices, but not go from A to Z overnight,” Lindholz said. “If I’m eating [cookies] for the last five years and that’s my snack, you’re not going to take me to broccoli or even grapes if [cookies] are what I love. What’s great about this app is it suggests items that are higher in nutrients, [but] not that much higher.”
The supermarket chain points to the success of its Simple Truth in-house brand of organic and natural foods as an indicator of what they hope to see with the OptUp ap.
Now valued at $2 billion, Kroger says Simple Truth has helped its customers make healthier purchases.
“We’re working on a long-term predictive analytics tool and the power behind some of the big payers,” Lindholtz said.
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