Can You Afford the High Cost of Hype?
As a food and beverage manufacturer, it’s your job to make products that consumers want—again and again. If you think consumers are actively avoiding HFCS, it would make sense to go HFCS-free. However, those are not the facts.
Here’s what expert, independent research tells us about sweeteners:
Among consumers, HFCS is not the concern—it’s total sugars.
In 2012, Mintel, a leading market research company, conducted a survey among more than 2,000 U.S. consumers on consumer attitudes and actions toward HFCS. The study explored consumer purchase behavior across 12 high-volume food and beverage categories such as bread, yogurt and cold cereals. The findings revealed:
In any given category, no more than 3% of consumers specifically avoid HFCS.
Fewer than 5% of consumers check labels for HFCS.
Nearly 80% of consumers are concerned about total sugars, not a specific type.
HFCS-free products aren’t succeeding in the marketplace.
As part of a comprehensive review of retail products and the performance of their different sweetener formulation strategies, Nielsen data has been collected on an ongoing basis since 2010. The shopper data comes from all outlets combined, including Walmart, and covers the sales of 25 leading brands across more than 3,200 SKUs in beverages, baked goods and prepared foods.
What the receipts show is conclusive: Regardless of market strategy, brands that switch to HFCS-free formulations have continually seen flat or falling market share.
HFCS and sugar are nutritionally equivalent.
HFCS is similar in composition to sugar. It has the same calories as sugar. And once absorbed into the bloodstream, it’s indistinguishable from sugar. Numerous experts within the scientific community have reached this conclusion from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) and the American Medical Association. 123
Making dollars and sense of it all.
While sugar and HFCS are the same nutritionally, when it comes to your bottom line, there’s a huge difference. A bakery switching to granulated sugar will experience between a 50 to 85 percent increase in formulary costs.4 In soft drinks, switching to HFCS-free formulations almost doubles sweetener costs.5
From the production floor to the store shelf, switching sweeteners is costly. To make money and to make your customers happy, don’t buy the hype. According to independent consumer research, it doesn’t pay off.
1 American Medical Association press release, June 17, 2008.
2 Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, May 2012.
3 Michael Jacobson, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest, USA Today, March 2, 2010.
4 David Guilfoyle, found and owner, Half Baked Innovations, “The True Cost of Switching from HFCS to Sugar,” December 2010.
5 NECG analysis, confidential sources; fully loaded COGS at bottler plant level before delivery costs. December 2011.