- Soda companies aim to sweeten slowing sales by replacing high fructose corn syrup with cane sugar, which consumers perceive to be healthier.
- Part of this move stems from consumers' demand for non-GMO foods and GMO labeling, as some corn is genetically modified, which manufacturers then use for high fructose corn syrup.
- Soda is also feeling pressure from products created with alternative sugars derived from coconuts, dates, and monk fruit, which are becoming more popular among health-conscious consumers.
Sales for sugar labeled "organic" saw a 15% increase in addition to a 10.5% increase for sugar labeled "natural" for the year, according to Nielsen data.
It's not that consumers are turning away from sweet foods altogether, as even health-conscious consumers indulge. But they are instead looking for sources of sweetness they deem healthier. Though sugar can come at a price relative to HFCS.
However, it's not as cut-and-dry as changing an ingredient and product label. Chobani labeled its Greek yogurt as containing evaporated cane juice, but that claim was targeted by a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was recently stayed until the FDA releases more formal guidance for the terms "natural" and "evaporated cane juice."
Also, food scientists have found that sugar and HFCS differ not only in price but in function. While both are sweet, they lend their sweetness in different ways. Because HFCS's sweetness intensity peaks earlier than sugar, it is well-suited for fruity and spice flavors.