Endorsed Golden Fields and Dick Smith products meet growing demand for healthy foods that taste good, too!

Weight control is emerging as one of the most significant factors in consumer purchasing decisions. As a result, there is an increasing demand for healthier foods that are readily available, affordable and actually taste good, too. Australian-owned family grocery company Steric Pty Limited is doing its part to meet the needs of this rapidly growing market by securing the endorsement of the International Diabetes Institute (IDI) for several of its brands.

Signing the final contract on Friday, Steric's Managing Director, Richard Brownie, said the institute's branding on the products' packaging would enable consumers to more easily locate wholesome foods on retail shelves, as they battle with weight and health problems arising from unhealthy dietary habits. A percentage of the proceeds from sales of the endorsed products will be returned to the IDI to fund further research.

"It's all too easy to eat badly these days, but we want to make it simpler for families to choose healthy foods," said Mr Brownie. "By winning the endorsement of the International Diabetes Institute on several of our products, we will be able to do just that.

"Consumers can rest assured that when they purchase a Steric product showing the International Diabetes Institute's gold or silver 'D' brand, they are making a healthier choice for their family's long-term health and wellbeing," he said.

"It's important to note that these products are appropriate not only for people with diabetes but are also ideal for health- or weight-conscious consumers generally, and it's this market that is growing exponentially, as the public becomes more aware of the detrimental long-term effects of poor eating habits," Mr Brownie said.

"In the three months since our IDI branded products have been on the market, we have been pleased to note a significant increase in sales that we attribute chiefly to the credibility accorded by the endorsement, and partly to a coinciding redesign of the packaging of the Golden Fields range," he said.

Steric products that are currently approved to display endorsement of the IDI are: Golden Fields oats (three varieties); Golden Fields cooking oils (four types); and Dick Smith Diet Cordials (five flavours). Steric's Dick Smith Helicopter Light Jelly (five flavours) has also qualified for endorsement and will be released in November.

The labels clearly display the IDI's gold or silver 'D' logo with a simple endorsement statement, making it easy for consumers to identify them without having to read and understand the nutritional table. Steric is developing point of sale material such as shelf talkers, which will be made available to retailers to highlight the products in stores.

"We are the first company to formally confirm our commitment to the IDI and it is critical at this stage to inform the consumer of the nature of the endorsement and what the health benefits of these foods are," said Mr Brownie. "With this in mind, we are supporting the release of the products with a widespread, educational print campaign in national consumer magazines."

To qualify for endorsement of the International Diabetes Institute as part of the "Shop for Gold and Silver" program, Steric's products had to undergo rigorous testing to meet strict criteria relating to invitro glycemic index (GI), as well as levels of fibre, sugar, fat, sodium and (for some products) calcium. Products receiving the gold medallion qualified in all categories while those branded with a silver medallion met the standard in all but one of the categories (although the level of fat is never compromised). This exception will be stated on the label so that consumers will know which category is slightly higher than ideally recommended.

"We are thrilled that Steric is able to provide consumers with some healthier choices," commented Professor Paul Zimmet, AO, founder of the International Diabetes Institute. "Our endorsement gives consumers the confidence to purchase a product that has been stringently evaluated against evidence-based criteria and certified as being a healthy choice.

"The endorsed foods from Steric will, with our mark and the consistent health information displayed on packaging, be distinguishable so that consumers can judge whether that food is appropriate for their needs, be they people with diabetes or just looking for healthier options," Professor Zimmet explained.

Concerns about rising obesity in both adults and children are widespread in the community. In April this year, the International Diabetes Institute released the results of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab), the first national study to determine the prevalence in the Australian population of diabetes, obesity and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The study showed that by world standards for a Western nation, the prevalence of diabetes and its contributing factors in Australia is very high. Almost 1 in 4 Australians aged 25 years and over have either diabetes or a condition of impaired glucose metabolism. Some 59.6 percent of participants in the study were found to be overweight or obese. This is more than double the rate 20 years ago.

These findings constitute a significant threat for Australia in terms of the socio-economic burden of cardiovascular disease and diabetic complications. Diabetes shortens life expectancy by up to 15 years and its annual cost to the nation exceeds $1.2 billion.

About the International Diabetes Institute:
The International Diabetes Institute is recognised globally as an independent centre for excellence in diabetes care, research and education. It is a World Health Organisation collaborating centre, and is associated with several major universities and centres in Australia and around the world in conducting research, clinical and nutritional studies.

The institute was founded in 1976 by Professor Paul Zimmet, AO, to provide an integrated, comprehensive and compassionate service to consumers with diabetes and related complications. For more information, visit the website at: www.diabetes.com.au

About Steric Pty Limited:
Steric Pty Limited is an Australian-owned company that has operated for more than 30 years. Headquartered in Villawood, NSW, the company employs more than 150 Australians in three factories and five distribution centres around the country. Steric is listed as one of the top 500 privately-owned Australian companies.

Manufacturing and distributing more than 400 food and cleaning products, Steric brands include Staminade, Golden Fields, So Gentle, Dick Smith Foods, Juicy's and Sunshine. Some Steric food products have the endorsement of the International Diabetes Institute. For more information, ph: 02 9728 6155.