ConAgra is to remove all trans fats from its whole grain microwave popcorn snack lines starting February 2006, marking the next step in the company's attempt to link itself with current health trends.
Over 120 different products in the Orville Redenbacher's and ACT II brands are to be reformulated, the company announced this week.
"This announcement is part of our journey to enhance nutritional profiles across the company's product lines. In fact, by the end of 2006 ConAgra Foods expects to eliminate or significantly reduce trans fat so that it will be at 0 grams or minimized levels for the vast majority of our products," said Pat Verduin, senior vice president for product quality and development at ConAgra Foods.
According to the company, the move is a "significant breakthrough in more nutritious snacking," and will allow consumers to benefit from the elimination of artery-clogging trans fats while increasing their whole grain and fiber intake.
Linked to raised blood cholesterol levels and heart disease, trans fats, created by a chemical process called hydrogenation used in the production process for longer shelf life, have come under fire from consumers pressing the food industry to cut its presence in foods.
As a result, the industry is gradually slicing out their use as more consumers look for alternative products. As from 1 January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require all food companies in the US to label the amount of trans-fat in their products.
According to ACNeilson, US sales of products already labeled 'no trans fat' increased 12 percent to $6.4 billion for the 52 weeks ended October 2, 2004, compared with the previous 52-week period.
ConAgra's announcement this week is in fact the latest in a series of moves by the company designed to reinforce its image as a maker of healthy foods.
In recent months, the firm launched a new range of products under the "Eat Well, Live Well, Choose Well" slogan, believing that by offering consumers simple and convenient solutions that are in tune with the new MyPyramid US food guidance system, it can carve out a niche in one of the fastest growing and most innovative food segments.
The firm also ran a 'Green is Good' marketing campaign in the summer, which involved television advertising, in-store programs, free-standing inserts in local papers, consumer promotions and coupon sampling.