HEALTH

Nielsen report shows more consumers switching to private label products

BY Michael Johnsen

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. Once considered a lower-price, lower-quality substitute for name brands, private label products, or store brands, are viewed positively by the majority of U.S. consumers, according to a new survey by The Nielsen Company. As many as 72 percent of consumers believe store brands are good alternatives to name brands and 62 percent of consumers report they consider store brands to be as good as name brands, up three points since 2005.

“While private label products continue to follow the success of consumer packaged goods manufacturers’ name brand  introductions, more CPG retailers are making private label a priority with messages on quality as strong as messages on value,” said Todd Hale, senior vice president of Consumer & Shopper Insights for the Nielsen Company.  

According to Nielsen’s survey, price and value are paramount, especially in today’s market. Three out of four consumers believed it is important to get the best price on a product. More than two-thirds 67 percent) of consumers agreed that store brands usually provide “extremely good value” for the money while 35 percent of consumers are willing to pay the same or more for store brands if they like it.

Conversely, only one out of every four consumers believed that name brand products are worth the extra price. “In today’s economy, consumers are looking for ways to save money and for many of them, that means taking a new look at private label products,” Hale said.  “With more retailers offering satisfaction guarantees on private label purchases and even serving up blind taste testing and trial programs, consumers’ exposure to private label products has never been greater.”

Private label products account for more than $81 billion in the United States, up 10.2 percent over the past year, Nielsen reported.

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Google tracks flu trends through requests via search engine

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Google has found a way to track the spread of the flu by taking note of users who type phrases related to the flu into its search engine and reporting them through a new service called Google Flu Trends.

This may enable local outbreaks to be detected before health officials detect them, tests of the site have shown.

According to The New York Times, searches for flu-related information on Google increased in mid-Atlantic U.S. states increased two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in the incidence of flu in those states.

 

 

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NPA challenges findings on vitamins C, E and cardio health

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON In response to new findings to be published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association on whether long-term vitamin E or vitamin C supplementation decreases the risk of major cardiovascular events among men, the Natural Products Association Monday evening challenged the findings.

“On the second page of the study, it references nine pooled studies that when using 700 milligrams per day of vitamin C showed a 25-percent reduction in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease; yet this study only used 500 milligrams per day. Why wasn’t the 700 milligrams per day amount used when that has been correlated with a reduction in occurrence in prior studies?” asked Daniel Fabricant, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at NPA.

“Additionally, while the study did control for multivitamin intake to prevent overlap, intake of vitamin C and E from food was not controlled. With a population of health care professionals at an increased risk for CVD, these subjects most likely know the benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and thus rich in vitamins C and E, and may adjust their intake accordingly. This would most certainly confound the study,” he said. “It is essentially a drug study but one without a positive control, which is necessary to ensure the experimental design can produce a positive result even if the intervention was unable to.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition was less critical. “Although the results did not demonstrate an overall benefit, the results also do not discount the earlier epidemiological data showing that people with high intakes of vitamins E and C may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease,” stated Andrew Shao, vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN. “Nutrition research is extremely complex, and doesn’t always provide clear cut answers. This study raises an interesting set of scientific challenges as to why the benefits found in observational studies have not been confirmed in this kind of trial,” he said. “The truth is, we don’t have conclusive scientific evidence in the form of randomized, controlled trials that demonstrate exactly how to prevent cardiovascular disease. We do know there are some well known practical approaches—like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a diet with a variety of foods, regular exercise, seeing your physician, and responsible use of vitamin supplements.”

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