Fruit snacks aren’t what they used to be. We’re all familiar with the high fructose corn syrup–laden, artificially colored and flavored candy that masquerades as a nutritious snack. And while these imposters still abound, consumers are wiser about faux health food. Could the real fruit snacks please stand up? Yes, say brands working overtime to remake the category’s tarnished image.
Their intentions have come right in time because sales of candied fruit and nut snacks have dipped, but not by a landslide—yet. The category experienced a nearly 9 percent drop to $14.6 million in combined–channel sales in the 52-week period ending Oct. 27, 2013, according to SPINS. To recapture focus, brands are incorporating unexpected ingredients to add flavor and up nutrition profiles. Think coconut-flecked mango fruit leather and baobab-enhanced gummy fruit cubes. Organic certification is also important in this produce-focused category, and fair trade and non-GMO labels never hurt. Regaining consumer trust relies on proving that real fruit snacks truly have nothing to hide.