Consumer craving for healthier and more natural ingredients
is spreading even to junk food, with Nestlé SA saying it will remove artificial
flavors and colors from its Crunch and Butterfinger candy bars and other
chocolates in the U.S. Nestlé said it has been working for more than a year on
taking out food colorings such as Red 40 and Yellow 5, and flavorings like
vanillin from its more than 250 chocolate products. The changes will take
effect by the end of the year.
The move makes Nestlé USA, a unit of Switzerland-based
Nestlé with about $10 billion in sales, the first major U.S. candy manufacturer
to remove such artificial ingredients—though others are working on similar
moves. Burgeoning demand for food made with simpler ingredients has put
pressure on the packaged-food industry in recent years to develop natural
substitutes that have reliable, cost-effective supplies.
Market-research firm Nielsen found in a recent study that
more than 60% of Americans say that the absence of artificial colors or flavors
is important in their food-buying decisions. Nestlé has made the change in the
U.K.—a move that took from 2005 to 2012. U.S. Chief Paul Grimwood led that
effort, and he has pushed the issue in the U.S. since taking over in October
Nestlé said natural vanilla flavor will replace vanillin in
Crunch bars. Annatto, which comes from the seeds of achiote trees, will stand
in for the artificial food colorings long used in Butterfinger bars. While the
move is more expensive, Nestlé said it won’t raise the price of its candy as a
The move is easier for Nestlé to make than its far larger
rivals. Nestlé’s U.S. candy sales topped $900 million in 2013, the company
said. That leaves it with about 5% of the market, according to research firm
Euromonitor International. By comparison, the top two competitors, Hershey Co.
and Mars Inc., together make up 65% of sales. Mondelez International Inc.,
which makes Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolate, said last year it would reduce
the saturated fat and sodium in its snacks by 10% by 2020, though it made no
promise regarding artificial ingredients.
Even though colorings such as Red 40 are approved by the
Food and Drug Administration, such ingredients have come under scrutiny in
recent years as consumer advocacy groups such as the Center for Science in the
Public Interest argue that they have ill health effects.
Nestlé’s next step will be removing artificial colors and
flavors from its gummy and sour candies like SweeTARTS and Nerds. Those are
tougher to transition because of the bright colors that are harder to duplicate
naturally, a spokeswoman said. But all new candies, such as Wonka Randoms which
came out last year, are made with natural alternatives.
here to access the full article on The Wall Street Journal.