The complex nature of defining “Healthy”

The complex nature of defining “Healthy”

Retailers are under constant pressure to diversify and emphasise their product offering through a health lens. The complexity of differentiating what a “healthier” product is, demands attention from regulatory framework, nutritional guidelines and knowledge in product labels. Using data-led nutrition is essential in order to be able process large scale product data, as well as maintain compliance through reviewing new and reformulated products. 

How Spoon Guru does it

Spoon Guru’s technology is a sophisticated and detailed response to this need. A common method of differentiation of product health is using a Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM). Best practice NPMs are regulated and created for specific markets/regions to build nutrition policy from. It is not uncommon for unregulated NPMs to be used in commercial settings where there is absence of a regulated version, however these risk bias and challenge in the market. 

We steer right into the science and regulations and harness data-led nutrition to align these two and have found a way to help retailers identify healthier options in their product libraries in absence of an NPM. 

We break it down into categories which take into account the retailer’s own internal category taxonomy. The categories are then further curated against nutritional criteria using label information, benchmarking against region-specific nutritional guidelines, scientific and regulatory framework and validated nutritional science. Examples of some of the nutrients which are considered are sugar, fat (total and saturated), salt/sodium, protein, and select micronutrients. Our complex TAGs® align to external organisations, leaning into the ‘Food as Medicine’ narrative, further enriching the application of healthier products for the retailer. 

These rules are put into place for each category, and thresholds for each nutrient. Then the translation is triggered to create rules in our system, which build the algorithm for complex TAGs®. Translation from nutrition attributes to digital code is supported by a dedicated team of registered Nutritionists, and expert Data Engineers. There is a Quality Assurance (QA) team of registered nutritionists that monitor the progress and act as middlemen in the workflow, they also flag issues and run regular QA on the categories to make sure the output is correct.

The development of these complex TAGs® is extremely collaborative with the client/retailer, allowing them to create the architecture according to their data, and health agenda, whilst utilising our Nutritional experts to help guide through the data-led nutrition journey. 

On average a Complex Tag will have* :

  • 40 Categories
  • 9 Nutrient criteria
  • 450 Rules 

* Depending on data from retailer

Complex TAGs® in action

Schnucks wanted to launch the Good for You programme to help make it easier for customers to make the healthier choice, on any budget, and for this behaviour to be sustained over time. Leveraging Spoon Guru’s Health+ Starter solution enabled them to run a unique health program based on complex rules. 

Spoon Guru collected, enhanced and evaluated the data attributes for all foods sold at Schnucks’ stores to determine what is Good For You, culminating in a list of 5,000 products. The combination of industry-leading AI, based on an award-winning algorithm processing billions of data points daily and then further refined by a team of in-house nutritionists, gave Schnucks confidence in the integrity of the Good For You list.

Want to learn more about Schnucks’ challenges and results, as well as in-depth information on how Spoon Guru helped?

Read more here.

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Johanna Bolinder
Head of Health & Sustainability, Spoon Guru