Quality standards, product changes

Sound Consumer | September 2006

by Trudy Bialic, editor

(September 2006) — Some familiar products are being replaced by new brands at PCC and we want you to know why. The items being discontinued include Horizon Organic dairy products, Breyer’s “all natural” ice cream, some Balance and Power bars, and a number of bodycare products.

Product changes occur all the time throughout the grocery business, usually to make room for items that are expected to sell better. At PCC, however, sales aren’t necessarily the driving factor. Our merchandisers periodically review whole categories of products, such as dairy or bodycare, against PCC’s standards and if items don’t measure up, they’re eliminated.

The decision to discontinue Horizon followed meetings between PCC merchandisers and other staff with the president/CEO of Horizon Organic. We asked questions about some of Horizon’s policies and standards, especially pasturing of organic cows. We communicated our expectations in a follow-up letter. Horizon’s response did not provide the commitment we require.

Breyer’s ice cream is being discontinued because Breyer’s cannot verify its “all natural” product is made from milk produced without rBGH, a genetically engineered growth hormone. The “all natural” ice cream is made from so-called “pool” milk, meaning milk from various dairies is mixed together – including some that may use rBGH.

As merchandisers reviewed energy bars, they decided to eliminate the Balance and Power bars containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an ingredient linked to several unhealthful conditions. They authorized and you’ll be seeing new Balance and Power bars that are HFCS-free.

Our body care merchandiser is bringing in several new skin care and cosmetic product lines that are paraben-free. Parabens (e.g., methylparaben) are preservatives and known endrocrine disruptors; one study links them to breast cancer.

PCC is rejecting new products containing parabens and is considering options to products that still contain them or awaiting paraben-free reformulations. Shoppers will notice the new paraben-free lines under the brand names of Larenim, Moon Valley, Avalon, Emerita and Mychelle.

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