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Unified Grocers Partners With Guiding Stars(R) and healthyAisles(R) to Launch Nutrition Guidance Program for Independent Retailers

(July 09, 2012)

LOS ANGELES, July 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unified Grocers, the largest wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States, has partnered with Guiding Stars® and Vestcom's healthyAisles® to give shoppers of independent grocery stores a quick and easy way to make informed decisions about healthy food choices. This convenient and easy-to-use shelf tag program allows shoppers to see at a glance foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories and identify the key health benefits of each item.



The Guiding Stars and healthyAisles program debuted at Granite Falls Market Fresh IGA, Granite Falls, Washington and Lamb's Garden Home Market, Portland, Oregon earlier this year. Unified is planning to roll out the program at more independent retailers' stores throughout the West in the coming months.



Shelf tags throughout the participating stores provide consumers a zero to three-star nutritional rating for each product and also address individuals' dietary or lifestyle needs by identifying the following product attributes: heart healthy, low sodium, whole grain, good source of fiber, gluten free, organic, low saturated fat, or calcium smart.


Mike Trask, owner, Granite Falls Market Fresh IGA, said, "Nutrition and healthy eating are key considerations for our customers, so we always strive to meet their specific dietary needs. By bringing an excellent nutrition guidance program to our shelves we are making shopping for healthy foods easier and helping our shoppers meet their nutrition goals."




John Eldredge, director of brand and business development for Guiding Stars, said, "We are pleased to join Unified Grocers and healthyAisles to help supermarket shoppers find healthy foods that fit into their lifestyle needs. This collaboration showcases Unified Grocers' commitment to helping independent retailers make nutritious food shopping easy, practical and fun for consumers."



Anissa Buckley, senior director at healthyAisles, said, "We believe this collaborative nutrition information system offers a best-in-class program that addresses shoppers' growing need for specific dietary information—it's exciting to see the program grow throughout the West."



Guiding Stars was recently awarded patent protection for its algorithm that is grounded in evidence-based science and the most current guidelines and recommendations of leading national agencies such as the FDA and USDA. The system credits all edible foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. Food items are then awarded zero, one, two or three stars—one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value.



Vestcom is partnered with the USDA and has developed healthyAisles in conjunction with both USDA and FDA guidance. The database supports interpretation of more than 30 different attributes that can be mixed and matched to customize a balanced nutrition program.



About Unified Grocers, Inc.



Founded in 1922, Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States. Unified and its subsidiaries, which generated approximately $4 billion in sales during fiscal 2011, offer independent retailers all the resources they need to compete in the supermarket industry. For more information about Unified Grocers, visit: http://www.unifiedgrocers.com



The Unified Grocers, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=1214



About Guiding Stars



Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious food choices and recently received a U.S. Patent for the Guiding Stars nutrition rating algorithm. The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 1,700 supermarkets including Hannaford, Food Lion, Sweetbay, Homeland, Marsh and Kings Super Market. Guiding Stars has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application. For more information about Guiding Stars, visit: www.guidingstars.com.



About Vestcom International, Inc.



Little Rock, Arkansas-based Vestcom is the leading provider of customized shelf-edge communications and specialized marketing services for the retail industry—delivering proven results and influencing shopper behavior at the point-of decision for the nation's top retailers and their suppliers, processing more than two billion price/promotion updates per week through its 10 production facilities located across the United States. Vestcom's services benefit retail clients by reducing store operations expenses, increasing retail sales and coordinating in-store execution with retailers and their brand partners. For more information about Vestcom International, Inc., visit: www.vestcom.com.



Safe Harbor Statement



This press release contains forward-looking statements about the future performance of Unified Grocers based on Management's assumptions and beliefs in light of information currently available to it. There are a variety of factors that could cause actual and future results to differ materially from those anticipated by the statements made above. These factors are outlined in the Company's Form 10-K and other interim reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Furthermore, Unified undertakes no obligation to update, amend or clarify forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.


CONTACT: Bob Hutchins
206-763-7966
bhutchins@unifiedgrocers.com



Unified Grocers company logo


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