Good news: Some food companies are beginning to listen to consumer concerns and are phasing out high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from their products. Of course, as Advertising Age reports, the decision is creating its own marketing challenges:
The biggest risk is that trumpeting sugar could undermine other products in the portfolio that will continue to use HFCS. For instance, Heinz is launching “Simply Heinz” this month, though the rest of its ketchups will continue to use HFCS. The product is being billed as part of the marketer’s lifestyle range, which also includes organic and reduced-sugar ketchup. Heinz says it is not planning a marketing campaign for the new line…
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Brands must also be careful not to miss the mark by aggressively promoting the change to consumers who may not have given HFCS much thought.
The longer they can keep HFCS in their products, the better for their bottom line — it’s that much cheaper than sugar. When drafts of the 2012 Farm Bill begin circulating, however, the sugar lobby will ramp up its efforts, and food companies will get behind them. Sugar is not subsidized in this country, but corn is — and that’s the main reason food companies made the switch to HFCS back in the 1970s and 80s. This year a pound of sugar is 53 cents, whereas a pound of HFCS is 27 cents.
It will come as no surprise that the Corn Refiners Association isn’t happy about this. They’ve launched a massive PR offensive to defend their corn syrup gold mine. Expect to see a wave of industry-sponsored counter research in the near future.