Natural Foods Merchandiser

Products Shedding High Fructose Corn Syrup to Meet Naturals' Demands

Feeling pressure from the natural foods industry, some crossover brands have reformulated their products to remove high fructose corn syrup or are in the process of doing so.

In July, North Carolina-based Earth Fare announced it would no longer carry any products containing the ubiquitous but highly controversial sweetener. Likewise, Wild Oats said that while it had not yet banned the ingredient, its private label products did not use it and the chain was hoping to influence other brands to find alternate ingredients. Newman's Own was among those brands. As it turned out, the company had in fact reformulated its pasta sauces and salad dressings but had not yet changed its labels. Mary Mulry, Wild Oats' senior director of product development and standards, said communication problems were to blame. "They had taken it out of their pasta sauces and salad dressings based on our feedback from before and they hadn't told us."

High fructose corn syrup is still present in the company's lemonade. "We're working to find a balance" between health concerns and cost, said Newman's Own spokeswoman Kirsten McKamy. We're looking for ways to take it out ? [and] have some money left over for charity."

"We're still evaluating whether we're going to continue to have that product," Mulry said. "We're pretty firm that we want to continue to hold the line on anything other than sweetened carbonated beverages at this time." She added that consumers—especially crossover shoppers—have some expectation "that you're going to have high fructose corn syrup in those products."

Even so, Blue Sky, which is owned by Hansen's, has been considering removing the HFCS from its products. "It's something that we have looked at and we've been speaking with our various retail customers about, but at this time we have not made a decision to make that change," said Gregg Arends, senior vice president of marketing for Blue Sky. "For those few stores that absolutely don't accept high fructose corn sweetener, we do have products within our lineup," including Blue Sky Tea Sodas and organic sodas, he said. "As far as new products that we're formulating, we've been leaning toward cane sugar for most of our new products," he added.

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