Posted by Linda Bonvie
July 31, 2014
The power of well-informed consumers to reverse harmful food industry practices has once again been demonstrated by the response of a major company to the concerns of its customers.
The company is General Mills, which has come out with a TV commercial proclaiming that “What matters most should always come first – which is why we use whole grains in every General Mills Big G cereal and why we never use high fructose corn syrup.”
Apparently, they haven’t been listening to the mantra of the Corn Refiners Association, which is that companies need not bother removing HFCS from their products because most consumers really don’t care about the fact that it’s there. Or, perhaps we should add, was put there without anyone bothering to consult them – or without the benefit of research that has since linked it to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and a bunch of other health problems.
But the, the CRA has dismissed such studies, done by scientists at some of the country’s leading universities and medical facilities, as so much “false science” – just like it dismisses the concerns that an increasing number of parents have about the cumulative effects of HFCS in a wide range of products as hazardous to their children’s health.
The corn refiners claim that marketing surveys have confirmed their premise that the addition of HFCS in products is of no real interest to people who buy them. Well, here at Food Identity Theft, we’ve talked to many shoppers in the course of our research “in the field” (that is, in supermarket aisles). And the majority of those we speak with are quite concerned – and have told us they want no part of products containing HFCS.
But companies as large as General Mills don’t come to these conclusions without their own appraisals of consumer concerns and attitudes, as well as the trends they see on social media. And the fact that they are now making such a point of bringing out products that contain no high fructose corn syrup tells us a lot about what they’ve discovered their customers want.
And they’re not the only ones who seem to have arrived at this conclusion. In the past few months, a number of food companies have taken dramatic steps to rid their products of HFCS or let the public know they don’t use it. These include: Subway, which has been trumpeting the fact that it has removed HFCS from its bread; Panera Bread, which has announced plans to remove HFCS from all food products by 2016, and Pepsi, which has launched a new marketing campaign featuring music industry superstar Blake Shelton touting Pepsi with Real Sugar.
Then there’s Walmart, which has partnered with Wild Oats to bring out a line of natural and organic products that contain no HFCS.
In fact, if you examine the products on display in just about any supermarket aisle these days, you’ll find an increasing number whose manufacturers want shoppers to know that they’re HFCS free.
As for General Mills, readers might recall that back in April we posted a blog on the apology that company gave to its customers for the legal language used in an arbitration clause that gave many the impression they were forfeiting their right to sue, noting on its website that it had listened to consumer complaints.
In commenting on that development, we pointed out that if enough customers were to vent their dissatisfaction with food ingredients that are common in all sorts of products, but that can adversely affect their families’ health, it’s a good bet we’d see action on that front as well.
And we are. Keep up the good work!