“It’s early days, but we are actively looking at this potential change,” Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey told ConfectioneryNews. “Our aim is to be transparent with our consumers about the ingredients we use in our products.”
“This work is just underway and we do not have a timeframe for when this might be available,” he added.
HFCS’s nutritional profile
Hershey does not use high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, which have always contained sugar, but does for hundreds of other products in its portfolio including York and Almond Joy.
Hershey’s website says that the body metabolizes high-fructose corn syrup in the same way it metabolizes table sugar and honey.
HFCS 42, which is used in foods, contains about 42% fructose with the balance mostly comprising glucose, while the more expensive sucrose contains 50:50 glucose and fructose.
HFCS critics claim HFCS and sucrose are metabolized differently and say HFCS increases risk factors for type 2 diabetes and obesity. However, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) says the sweeteners are not metabolized differently and say that obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise in countries like the UK and Australia despite limited HFCS consumption.
Why change if sucrose is similar?
We asked Beckman why removing HFCS was necessary if Hershey viewed sugar – which has also received a bad press – as nutritionally similar.
“We are being responsive to what consumers are telling us they want. Again, whatever ingredients we use, we will be transparent about what is in our products so consumers are informed about what they choose to buy,” he said.
Changing the taste?
“A change to sugar from HFCS in any of our products won’t change the taste of those products,” he said.
He said that just as the company changed its cocoa sourcing from time to time without impacting the flavor, Hershey’s sensory team at its Tech Center would ensure any change from HFCS to sugar would deliver a familiar taste.
'No high fructose corn syrup' claims featured on around 2.35% of the 20,000+ new products launched in the US in 2013, compared with 2.30% of new products launched in 2012, and 1.56% in 2010, according to data from Mintel.