HEALTH

GMA, FMI join forces to make America healthier

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON The nation’s food and beverage manufacturers and retailers are taking an extra step to combat obesity.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are joining forces to develop a new front-of-package nutrition labeling system, which will present nutrition information in a fact-based, simple and easy-to-use format. The industry groups will finalize the details of the initiative, including the technical and design elements, in the coming months.

“The food and beverage industry is committed to empowering consumers by providing them with the products, tools and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy diet,” said GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey. “This initiative comes on top of the 20,000 healthier product choices we have developed, the responsible marketing practices we have adopted and the tens of millions of dollars we spend annually on healthy lifestyle promotion.”

Consumers can expect to see the new labeling system by early next year.

“Thanks to this initiative and many other innovative industry programs, consumers will now have access to more information about their food than ever before,” said FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin. “This unprecedented partnership with manufacturers will expand access to nutrition information for all Americans and give shoppers a powerful tool to assist them in selecting nutritious products.”

The industry groups also added that it will drive awareness to the new labeling system with a $50 million consumer education campaign, which also will launch in 2011.

“Through this initiative, we continue to deliver on our promise to our consumers and demonstrate that we are moving farther [and] faster in our ongoing effort to play a constructive and responsible role in the fight against obesity,” Bailey added.

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Matrixx reports Q2 decline but hopes new campaign will boost business

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Matrixx Initiatives on Monday reported a decline of 17% in net sales to $21.3 million for the company’s second quarter ended Sept. 30. The decline, Matrixx president and CEO Bill Hemelt explained to analysts Tuesday morning, represented a course correction of sorts. The sales decline was “due to lower upfront buys by retailers,” Hemelt said. Last year, all of the hype around H1N1 drove retailers to heavily stock in cough-and-cold supplies. This year, that industry level has dropped to more historical levels, Hemelt suggested, particularly across the drug channel.

Hemelt shared with analysts the company’s new advertising campaign, which begins airing in earnest a week following the November elections. The new campaign features three iconic TV moms — "The Brady Bunch’s" Florence Henderson, "Family Ties’" Meredith Baxter and "Seinfeld’s" Estelle Harris — who make up the “Mom Squad” and save cold sufferers from various treatment myths, such as “freezing out” a cold or consuming onions to help relieve the cold.

“We believe our new creative will continue to differentiate our products from general symptom relief products and help increase consumer awareness,” Hemelt said. “All of these [initiatives] will be supported by strong retail marketing support that has already begun,” Hemelt added during his conference call with analysts.

 

Last week, Matrixx released a new national survey of U.S. adults that found the majority of Americans are misinformed about what causes the common cold, and how and when they should treat it. Nearly three-quarters of consumers (72%) believed there was not much they could do about a cold except mask the symptoms and wait it out. The top five myths about colds that pharmacists reported were most difficult to debunk:

  • Antibiotics can kill the germs that cause colds;
  • Changes in the weather can cause colds;
  • Getting wet and chilled can cause colds;
  • Sitting in a draft can cause colds; and
  • Avoiding changes in temperatures will help prevent colds.

 

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Strativa enters license, supply agreement with Sobi

BY Alaric DeArment

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. Strativa Pharmaceuticals is working with a Swedish drug maker to develop and commercialize a prescription vitamin supplement, Strativa said Tuesday.

 

The company said it had signed a license and supply agreement with Swedish Orphan Biovitrum, also known as Sobi, concerning European rights to Strativa’s Nascobal (cyanocobalamin), a vitamin B12 nasal spray.

 

 

The supplement is approved for treating vitamin B12 deficiency, designed as a once-weekly alternative to injections. Vitamin B12 deficiency usually results from pernicious anemia, a strict vegetarian diet and poor absorption of the nutrient resulting from such medical conditions as HIV infection, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and gastrectomy.

 

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