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EPA awards WhiteWave Foods for efforts to use and advance green energy

BY Melissa Valliant

DENVER The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named WhiteWave Foods the 2008 Green Power Leadership Award winner at an event held in conjunction with the 2008 National Renewable Energy Marketing Conference in Denver, Colo. This is the fifth time the company has been recognized as the leader in purchasing green power in an effort to increase the use of renewable energy.

WWFC started buying renewable energy credits in 2003 for the manufacturing of Silk Soymilk. Today, the company uses these sustainability practices for its Horizon Organic, International Delight and Land O’Lakes, as well as at its corporate headquarters. WWFC combines wind energy and recycling to reduce its carbon footprint. Its wind energy purchases have saved 450 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 40,200 cars off the road for one year. It also developed a recycling and composting program in 2006 that resulted in the equivalent of saving more than 328,000 gallons of water and planting approximately 800 trees.

Silk and Horizon Organic spread awareness of the benefits of green energy through consumer promotions, messages on their packaging and through their Web sites. The two brands have also purchased Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs, or Green Tags) for the past three years to offset the electricity used to power the convention centers that host the annual natural and organic products trade shows. For the past two years, they did the same with the annual Farm Aid concerts. WWFC also “greened” the University of Colorado?s football stadium through recycling, composting, the promotion of alternative transportation and replacing the electricity with renewable energy.

“Our nation is shifting to a ‘green culture,’ with more and more Americans understanding that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility,” said EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. “The EPA commends WhiteWave Foods Company for making a long-term commitment to protecting the environment by purchasing green power.”

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ADA survey shows more Americans paying attention to exercise, healthy eating

BY DSN STAFF

CHICAGO The American Dietetic Association this week released a report called “Nutrition and You: Trends 2008” that shows Americans, on average, are paying more attention to their eating and exercise habits.

The survey questioned 783 men and women nationwide and asked questions about how often they exercised and what measures they took to maintain a healthful diet. 

Many respondents (43 percent)  said that they already practiced a healthy lifestyle, up from about 38 percent in 2002. Those who said they are aware of the steps they should take in order to maintain a healthy active lifestyle comprised 38 percent, up from 30 percent in 2002. And the percentage of respondents who said that they just don’t care or won’t make the effort to practice good eating and exercise habits totaled 19 percent—down from 32 percent in 2002. 

The survey also showed that about 56 percent are purposefully consuming more whole grains. Fifty percent said they are eating more vegetables, while 41 percent said they are eating less beef, 23 percent reported eating less dairy, and 33 percent said they have reduced the amount of pork that they consume.

According to ADA’s survey, approximately three in five consumers said diet, nutrition and physical activity are “very important” to them personally. Women were more likely than men to say both are very important and younger adults were much less likely than older people to consider diet and nutrition “very important,” while exercise and physical activity were seen as very important by all age groups.

ADA’s survey was conducted by Mintel International between Feb. 15 and March 7, 2008 and included telephone interviews with 783 respondents 18 or older.

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Food manufacturers shrink product containers instead of raising prices

BY Melissa Valliant

LONDON If your jar of Skippy seemed to dissipate a bit faster than usual and your weekly peanut butter sandwich intake hasn’t faced any major increases, you’re not crazy. Skippy, as well as various other food product manufacturers, has cut back its container size and weight while still maintaining the original look of the packaging.

The bottoms of Skippy jars now contain an inconspicuous dimple that accounts for a 10 percent decrease in peanut butter, and many shopper are feeling deceived into believing they are purchasing the same amount of peanut butter for the same price as the old. The jar, once 18 ounces and now 16.3, is the result of what Skippy and other manufacturers are saying is the only solution to the rising food and gas prices.

Unilever, which produces Skippy, also manufactures Breyers ice cream and has similarly cut back on the amount of its product per package. What used to be a container 1.75 quarts full of ice cream has now been reduced to 1.5, and competitor Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream did the same. Ice cream makers had been facing skyrocketing costs in milk, cocoa, sweeteners and energy. “We looked at raising prices to cover these costs, but at some point it just doesn’t make sense to raise prices too high … The ongoing feedback from our customers it that they aren’t ready to pay $7 or more for a carton of ice cream.

Though this change in weight is stated on the product, it oftentimes goes unnoticed because the packaging looks the same and shoppers don’t realize anything is different about the product. Manufacturers are making very subtle changes, thus creating “the illusion that you are buying the same amount,” explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass. Kellogg Co. has cut back on the weight of its Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops and Honey Smacks. Dial has eliminated .5 ounces of its soap but maintained the package’s size to appear the same as its old product. Quilted Northern has cut half an inch off the width of its Ultra Plush toilet paper, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar is now 6.8 ounces from 8 ounces.

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