Why Did Hunt's Ketchup Go HFCS Free?

Recently ConAgra, the maker of Hunt’s Ketchup, decided to reformulate the brand to exclude high fructose corn syrup. But was it for health reasons, or marketing ones? Or both?

The NYT says there’s no concrete evidence that HFCS is any worse for you than sugar, but that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are to blame for the rising backlash against the sweetener.

What started as a narrow movement by proponents of natural and organic foods has morphed into a swell of mainstream opposition, thanks in large part to tools of modern activism like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and movies like “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn.”

As a result, sales of the ingredient have fallen in the United States. Charlie Mills, an analyst at Credit Suisse, says that the combined United States sales of high-fructose corn syrup for Archer Daniels Midland, Tate & Lyle and Corn Products International were down 9 percent in 2009, compared with 2007. A further decline is expected this year, he says.

This is happening even though many scientists say that high-fructose corn syrup is no worse for people than sugar, which costs some 40 percent more.

“Manufacturers are tired of hearing about the e-mails, the 800-number calls and the letters,” says Phil Lempert, editor of the Lempert Report, which focuses on supermarket trends. “People don’t want it, so why fight them?”

Do you care about HFCS?

For Corn Syrup, the Sweet Talk Gets Harder [NYT]