Clear label pledge

Hershey's Milk Chocolate and Kisses to go non-GM

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Hershey to remove artificial vanillin and PGPR in ‘simple ingredients’ transition
Hershey to remove artificial vanillin and PGPR in ‘simple ingredients’ transition

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Hershey intends to remove genetically-modified ingredients from Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and Kisses by the end of the year.

The company will swap GM sugar beet to cane sugar and will switch to a non-GM soy lecithin for the brands as it pledges to shift to “simple ingredients”.

It will also remove emulsifier polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) and artificial vanillin in the products.

No artificial colors and flavors or HFCS

Hershey said in a statement: “We are specifically looking to formulate new products and transition existing products to deliver on no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, no high fructose corn-syrup and to be gluten-free.”

Hershey's clean label initiative comes just days after Nestlé USA committed to removing artificial colors and flavors​ in its confectionery range.

hershey milk chocolate bar
Hershey's Milk Chocolate and Kisses have carried no artificial vanillin or PGPR for a number of years.

Jeff Beckman, director of corporate communications at Hershey, told ConfectioneryNews. “We are looking closely at every ingredient in our products and how we describe them. We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product."

Hershey has been under pressure from consumer groups​ to remove or label GMOs for a number of years.

Follows an earlier move in Canada

For Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and Kisses, the company will move to natural vanilla, non-genetically modified sugar and milk from cows that have not been treated with growth hormone rBST.  

Hershey replaced artificial vanillin with natural vanilla and removed PGPR in Canada a few years ago. ​The Canadian products still contain soy lecithin, which Hershey has previously described as “basically a natural emulsifier made with soy beans”.

What is PGPR?

PGPR (E 476) is an emulsifier which reduces the viscosity of chocolate. PGPR supplier Palsgaard told us last year​ that it saw increased interest in the ingredient as it could partially replace cocoa butter and offset rising prices. However, it warned that an e-number could be “a show stopper.”

‘Simple snacking products’

In the US, Hershey also intends to roll out “simple snacking products”​ without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colors & flavors, such as Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bars.

It also plans to introduce a full ingredient glossary and profiles of the firm’s suppliers on its website.

Beckman said the shift to ‘simple ingredients’ could take a number of years, but said Hershey would provide updates on its progress.

The company said it would initially cost more to source these ingredients, but pledged to maintain consumer prices. Last year, the company increased wholesale prices 8% globally in response to rising cocoa, dairy and nut prices. “No other action is planned at this time,” ​it said in a Q&A on its simple ingredients policy.

Hershey's Three Principles for Recipes

hershey new logo

Simple Ingredients:​ Ingredients that are simple and easy to understand, like fresh milk from local farms, cocoa beans and sugar.

Sharing What’s Inside​: Sharing information on ingredients sourcing, manufacturing and labeling.

Thoughtful and responsible sourcing:​ Working with suppliers to source sustainable ingredients, e.g 100% certified cocoa and traceable palm oil.

Mars under the spotlight

Mars has now come under pressure to remove artificial dyes following Nestlé and Hershey’s recent announcements.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said in a release​: “If Nestlé can do it, Mars can do it.”

The organization has called on Mars to remove artificial colors linked to child hyperactivity in its M&M’s brand.

Mars has removed these dyes for M&M’s in Europe, but the brand contains Blue 1, Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40 in the US. We have asked Mars if it intends to change its policies and are awaiting a response.

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good on ya

Posted by rob brower,

Thank you Hersheys; now I will buy your products again. Hopefully with this and other products like Cheerios waking up, consumer demand will start to dismantle the sad state of affairs our food system has morphed into; still a long way to go.

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Make these in the USA

Posted by Deanna Ireland,

Please bring these wonderful candy bars back to the USA and please go back to the original wrapper I grew up with, wrapped in a plastic sleeve is just not the same ....... just saying! Thanks for letting me have a voice here and thanks for any considerations to my requests.

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Response: Tired of click bait titles

Posted by Oliver Nieburg,

In the final lines of Hershey's Q&A response to 'Will any of your products be completely non-GM?' the company says:
"In 2015, you can expect products in our snacking portfolio that include non-genetically modified ingredients. We will also be transitioning of some of our most popular chocolate brands, including Hershey’s Kisses and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, by year end."

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