New recipes

McDonald’s Is Making Moves Toward Sustainably Sourced Coffee

McDonald’s Is Making Moves Toward Sustainably Sourced Coffee

All coffee will come from sustainable sources by 2020

The initiative is inspired by increasing customers concerns with where their food (and drinks) comes from.

Following its promises to use cage-free eggs and removing artificial ingredients from some of its menu items, McDonald’s has now moved its focus to coffee and has announced its plans to source all its coffee from sustainable sources by 2020, Bloomberg reported.

The fast-food chain is working on this initiative with environmental group Conservation International, which helped Starbucks develop sustainable sourcing practices.

“Our customers want to see where our products come from, what’s in it and how it’s made,” said Townsend Bailey, head of supply chain sustainability for McDonald’s.

Last year, only 37 percent of the coffee purchased by McDonald’s came from sustainable sources.

“Having a major brand like McDonald’s taking a very visible step will definitely drive restaurants and brands of retail names to join in the sustainable coffee challenge,” said Peter Seligmann, CEO of Conservation International. “We see this as an important, catalytic event.”


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Candy: Natural Selection

A few years ago, Trenton Shutters was having trouble at school and hockey practice. He was suffering from nightmares, which happened after he struggled to fall asleep. He was, in short, riding an emotional roller coaster.

His mom, Renee Shutters, put him on an elimination diet and discovered that artificial dyes were causing his issues. She subsequently launched a petition, together with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), on Change.org. She urged Mars Inc. to halt using artificial dyes that are linked to hyperactivity in its M&M’s.

As CSP went to press, 180,705 people had signed the petition.

Mars has made similar changes in Europe, where it uses natural colors—beets for red, carrots for orange, saffron for yellow—to dye its candies. The alternative would be printing a required statement on its label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

While Mars has not yet acted on the petition, the company says the ingredients in its products pose no threat to children or anyone else.

“All of the ingredients we use in our products throughout the world today are safe,” says a Mars spokesperson. “The colors and flavors we use in our products comply with our own strict internal quality and safety requirements, as well as all applicable laws and regulations. We will continue to explore the possibilities of using naturally sourced colors in the future.”

The example above is just one component of the changes going on in the world of candy, and different manufacturers are responding in different ways.

Change in the Air

Nestlé and Hershey (the fourth- and fifth-largest confectionery companies in the world, respectively) both recently announced updates to their products.

In February, Nestle said it would remove artificial colors from its chocolate candy line, affecting more than 250 products and 10 brands including Butterfinger, Crunch and Baby Ruth. Reformulated products will start popping up midyear with a “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” statement on packages.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks, in a press release. “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price.”

Nestlé’s own research suggested that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free from artificial flavors and colors, and findings from Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health & Wellness Survey show that more than 60% of Americans say no artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchasing decisions.

Hershey’s is doing its part, too, transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients. This builds and expands on the company’s publicized efforts to source the ingredients it uses in its product portfolio.

The company’s agenda has three facets:

  • Simple ingredients that anyone can understand, such as milk, cocoa beans and sugar.
  • Speaking of everything from ingredients to sourcing, Hershey says it will make the information easy to find on packaging, on the company’s website or via new technologies.
  • Thoughtful and responsible sourcing of ingredients.

“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” said John P. Bilbrey, president, CEO and chairman of the board of The Hershey Co., in a press release. “This is a journey, and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them.”

Hershey’s changes will take place over several years, according to Jeff Beckman, a company spokesman. Hershey this year will launch new products that are gluten-free, with no artificial colors and flavors or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

It will transition popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and standard-size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year’s end. These products are already gluten-free and HFCS-free, but Hershey is removing artificial flavors (vanillin) and the emulsifier PGPR, and moving to non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.

‘A No-Brainer’

It remains to be seen whether Mars will respond to the Change.org petition, but there appears to be no reason why they won’t.

“If some companies can do it, others should also be able to do it,” says Lisa Lefferts, senior scientist for CSPI. “There’s no reason we should have these artificial dyes or other artificial ingredients in our food. If Nestlé can do it, why can’t Mars? If they can do it in Europe, why can’t they do it here? Are we not worthy?”

Making these changes may cost a little more money, on one hand, she says, “but on the other, you are disrupting a child’s life—there’s no comparison. The stories of these parents are really compelling. It’s a no-brainer if it’s being done other places and can help other children, then why not do it?”

All companies have to evolve to stay current and relevant, says Melissa Abbott, vice president of culinary insights for The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash. She cites similar moves in the foodservice industry: Chipotle really got the ball rolling with responsible food, and McDonald’s announced in March that it would begin sourcing only chicken raised without antibiotics.

“This is something that companies should be doing,” she says. “And it shouldn’t be on their Facebook page it’s just expected that they do it. They should be showing that they’re being proactive, not reactive—that they’re doing it because they care about it, not because people want them to.

“Consumers don’t expect companies to be perfect. All the consumer wants is to know that you’re making some sort of effort.”

And if they’re not choosing to do it, consumers such as Renee Shutters are pressuring to make the shift toward healthier.

“The manufacturer no longer has control, which is the way it was for many years, and now it’s really shifted to this consumer culture where the consumer has a large … say in what these companies do,” Abbott says. “We can thank social media and millennials for really pushing this along.”

CONTINUED: What's Inside

What’s Inside

Pulin Modi is a senior campaigner at Change.org and sees firsthand the pressure that these companies come under.

“When people start petitions and share these things, it makes it more personal and it’s harder for the companies to say it’s just a company with an agenda,” Modi says. “They know they have to take it a little bit more seriously. And they see how many people have asked for this change. It’s hard to discredit these stories.”

Digital media gives consumers a voice, says Nancy Childs, professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“And what’s great is that these gigantic companies are listening,” she says. “It’s actually a cheap form of customer research, so it’s very valuable to them.

“There’s been a tremendous transfer of power over to the consumer,” she continues. “And the companies benefit from it. They learn a good bit about their product and get some wonderfully insightful ideas for innovation without spending a nickel on research.”

The confectionery industry has to make moves like Nestlé’s and Hershey’s, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York, because it’s at risk of losing customers. Younger people are aware of ingredients and have been brought up in an age in which candy faces fierce competition from high-end chocolates, innovative niche companies and healthier indulgences such as Kind bars.

“These customers seek products out at places like Whole Foods, and they’re not the iconic brands,” he says. “People are even questioning what’s in their candy. They’re more curious about what’s in them, and long ingredient lists and chemical-sounding names are turnoffs.”

A 2013 Datamonitor Survey showed that 72% of consumers said that a product with the lowest number of ingredients is somewhat or very appealing. “People are catching on that a shorter ingredient list means a product that’s cleaner,” Vierhile says.

Due to the ambiguity of the word “natural” and the fact that the word is unregulated, candy manufacturers are using other tactics to boost the positive attributes of their products, says Childs. “It’s more accurate that they reflect that in the ingredient list than in a word on their label,” she says. “And we know consumers are very interested in the phrase ‘clean label,’ so this may be aligning more with them.”

Feeling Indulged

Candy also has been demonized in recent years, with sugar taking the rap for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer and obesity to arthritis. But it’s still consumed by almost everyone, even many of those who consider themselves healthy eaters.

“Snacking is on the rise, and we’re looking for treats as rewards on a daily basis,” says Abbott. “Chocolate confections play a big role in that because there’s a nostalgia factor to it.”

And our attitudes toward it are changing, says Darren Seifer, executive director of NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. Thirty years ago, more than 70% of people told the NPD Group they wanted to avoid snacking entirely. “It used to be considered an indulgence,” he says. “Now snacking’s seen as a time to get nutrients in and eat fruit and nuts and so on.”

Because of this, what we snack on has changed. “We’re seeing people consume more foods like yogurt, nuts and cottage cheese, more often than sugary stuff,” he says. According to the NPD Group study “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018,” better-for-you snack foods are going to be consumed more than sugary snack foods. The change is already in motion: This year, the average person will consume 405 savory snacks, 366 sweet snacks and 357 better-for-you snacks, according to NPD.

And that is why, given sugar’s demonization, some candy companies are changing their message to one of simpler ingredients. “They’re trying clean up where they can,” Seifer says. “And they’re giving people fewer excuses to avoid their products.”

Isn’t That Specialty?

Innovation in the confectionery industry is mostly coming from specialty manufacturers, says Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor, New York.

“Things like sea salt, fruits, hemp and even ancient grains are showing up in their products,” Vierhile says.

Among the leading innovators:

  • Chuao, whose produce line includes Strawberry Waffle Wild Bar, Baconluxious Chocolate Bar, Spicy Maya Bar (with cinnamon, pasilla chile and cayenne)
  • Lindt, which offers up the Crème Brûlée Creation Bar and the Moulten Lava Cake Creation Bar, Sweet Popcorn Hello Bar
  • Dove’s Real fruit line, with fruit—such as cranberries, blueberries and cherries—dipped in dark chocolate.

Brookside, which was purchased by Hershey in December 2011, offers upscale resealable bags of mini chocolates such as dark chocolate with pomegranate flavor, acai and blueberry flavors, goji and raspberry flavors, which contain actual fruit concentrates.

Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman told CSP that Brookside has been growing since Hershey introduced it in the United States.

“Dark chocolates are lifting the overall segment as they’re attracting new shoppers who have both a growing awareness about these potential health effects and an appreciation for the unique and innovative flavor combinations that often are found with dark chocolate,” says Alison Bodor, executive vice president for the National Confectioners Association. Sales of dark chocolate rose about 8% from 2013 to 2014, she says.

Many new chocolate infusions and flavor combinations have natural ingredients such as nuts and berries, Bodor

says. Fruit infusions were up more than 50% last year, she says. Dark chocolate continues to grow, and milk-chocolate confections grew 2% in 2014, contributing $200 million in growth for the category, she says.


Watch the video: McDonalds Move (January 2022).