Growth in “No HFCS” claims is slowing as taste and price continue to be key consumer concerns

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Growth in “No HFCS” claims is slowing as taste and price continue to be key consumer concerns

Related tags Kraft foods

Food manufacturers understand that “No HFCS” claims are not resonating with consumers, suggests data from Mintel and Nielsen.

As reported by FoodNavigator-USA last year​, questions were raised about whether consumers were responding to products with ‘HFCS-free’ or ‘no HFCS’ labels, and if the purported trend had been stalled by consumer indifference.

Mintel data from 2002 and 2011 indicated that Kraft Foods led the pack on "no HFCS" introductions, with almost 10% of introductions, with Bear Naked (3.10%), Safeway (2.74%), Groupe Danone (2.45%), and Grupo Bimbo (2.31%) making up the rest of the top five.

However, the picture changes when the dataset is extended from 2002 to 2013. Data from the Mintel Global New Products Database indicated that in 2013, Grupo Bimbo now held the top spot with 4.82% of new products bearing a “no HFCS” claim. Kraft Foods Group had dropped to second with 4.22%, followed by Campbell Soup Company (3.86%), Groupe Danone (3.11%) and Kroger (2.67%). Bear Naked fell to 1.83% and Safeway fell to 2.23%.

‘No HFCS’ claims are slowing

“The data suggest that food manufacturers understand that “No HFCS” claims are not resonating with consumers,”​ said Martin Concannon, managing director of Lafayette Associates, and consultant for the Corn Refiners Association.

“In any case, growth in ‘No HFCS’ claims is slowing,”​ he told us. “In fact, data from Mintel and Nielsen’s recent Sweetener360 study shows that consumers are buying foods and beverages based on taste and price rather than better-for-you claims. And when it comes to sweeteners, they’re more concerned about total sweeteners than specific types.”

As proof of the slow-down, Concannon added that, of the more than 20,000 products introduced in 2013 only 2.35% had a ‘No HFCS’ claim. This was just a .05% increase over 2012, compared to a .21% increase from 2011-2012 and a 0.53% increase 2010-2011.

[The Sweetener360 Study was commissioned by the Corn Refiners Association and performed by Mintel and Nielsen.]

Not standalone claims

While products do continue to be launched bearing the claim such as Pepsi's new stevia-and-sugar sweetened cola Pepsi True, Concannon noted that the majority do not use “No HFCS” as a standalone claim.

“‘No HFCS’ is more likely to have additional health-focused claims on its packaging,” ​he said. “For example, 53.64% of products introduced from 2002-2013 that make a ‘No HFCS’ claim also make a ‘No Additives/Preservatives’ claim. The same ‘No Additives/Preservatives’ claim on all new food and beverage product introductions accounted for only 14.26%.

“The most common claims being used in conjunction with ‘No HFCS’ are ‘No Additives/Preservatives’ (53.64%), ‘Kosher’ (43.94%), Ethical – Environmentally Friendly packaging claims (29.86%), ‘Low/No/Reduced Trans fat’ (27.06%) and ‘All-Natural Product’ (24.07%).”

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