Tuesday, March 16, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Vs. Sugar

A little while ago, I wrote about Pepsi's limited-time 'Throwback' soft drinks which use sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. You can read it here. While browsing Advertising Age's website yesterday, I saw an interesting article that discussed the shift from HFCS to sugar that some companies are experimenting with while the price of the two products are similar.

It seems that several companies are choosing not to include the sweetener change in their marketing messages despite an increasing push away from HFCS by consumers. Why is this? One idea is that companies are testing the waters a bit before they dive in. As with 'Throwback' soft drinks, offering them for a limited-time allows Pepsi to gauge interest and satisfaction with the product instead of taking a huge risk changing their formula. We all know how abrupt changes have worked out in the past.

Some other companies also want to test out the use of sugar with their customers. Though, as the article points out, playing this up in the marketing may throw an unwanted spotlight on the brand's other products which still use HFCS. In addition, a push like this may not matter to a majority of the buying public in the first place. And, what happens if the change is implemented across the board, and sugar prices shoot up again, which appears to be the case this year?

As the country seems to be moving slowly toward healthier food choices (the reference to slow-moving, obese Americans here is unintentional), perhaps baby steps are the key for many established brands. Read the article and share your thoughts with me.