So, yesterday I grab the mail, start sorting it and notice a huge Fred Meyer flier. Fred Meyer is our local Kroger store here in PDX and we shop there often. Here’s the flier below…
The flier states:
“What’s the easiest way to enjoy all natural and organic? Keep it Simple. Naturally Preferred and Private Selection Organic are switching to Simple Truth. So now you can look for one name when picking up your favorite all-natural and organic products. It’s just that simple.“
Really Kroger? Does this seem like an awesome idea?
NO. As soon as I saw the flier my first thought was, “Way to confuse everyone.” In fact, here’s a timely example. We almost always buy organic eggs. Now, I won’t buy factory farmed store-brand milk, but we do usually buy Kroger store brand certified organic eggs, because they cost less than other organic eggs.
Anyhow, Dave (the roommate), went to the store the other day for groceries, including eggs, and he came home with these:
At first glace, I figured Kroger changed their organic packaging. At second glance, I noticed the eggs were in fact NOT organic, but “natural.” So I ask Dave about it and he says, “OMG I got them in the natural section right by the other organic eggs, where we always get them.” When discussed further, it turns out that Dave meant to get organic as per usual, but failed due to the new confusing packaging. It’s hard to blame him though.
Example of new confusing packaging:
As you can see, the new organic and natural packaging choices are almost 100% interchangeable. Plus ALL their organic and Naturally Preferred products are making the switch so everything will look identical. If you know to look for the USDA Organic Seal, you’ll do better with this new packaging. Of course Kroger did decide to use little green circles on their natural packaging too – little green circles that look like an organic seal if you look fast – which seems like blatant greenwashing to me.
Their wording on their flier is also super misleading. For example, they note, “What’s the easiest way to enjoy all natural and organic?” and “Look for one name when picking up your favorite all-natural and organic products.” Notice how they’ve used “all natural” and “organic” in one fast swoop, twice, making it seem as if the terms are one and the same?
First of all, in case you didn’t know, the USDA does not recognize the term or label “natural” as an official term. Although natural is a hot buzz word right now, it’s almost entirely meaningless. The term is completely unregulated and natural isn’t so natural because many so called natural products contain synthetic ingredients.
“Organic” on the other hand is a regulated term. If a product carries the organic seal, no that doesn’t mean it’s perfect, however, you are getting a product with fewer pesticides and zero artificial colors or flavors. Plus, you’re supporting planet-healthy agriculture.
Why the switch?
I’m not sure to what end Kroger decided that this change would be useful to their customers. It honestly seems to me as if they’re intentionally trying to trick people into buying natural over organic. That makes no sense. Not only is organic safer for people, but it costs more, which should make Kroger more $. The only thing I can think of is that Kroger is merging out their organic grocery choices – which also makes zero sense.
On one hand, Kroger may not confuse as many people as I’m guessing. A recent survey shows that consumers don’t trust “natural” food labels. On the flip side though, other past research has shown that many consumer are already confused by all the food labels out there, so the odds of getting real organics over non-organics becomes sketchy.
In any case, I’m extremely annoyed with this change. I’m not on board with any labeling plan that makes it harder for consumers to navigate already crazy confusing food labeling issues. If you’re annoyed too, below is a post that may help.
What do you think of the new Kroger natural / organic packaging shenanigans? Let me know in the comments.