DEERFIELD, ILL. — Mondelez International is the latest company to commit to removing artificial colors and flavors from packaged food brands. The Deerfield-based manufacturer of Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers said during a Sept. 10 conference with investors that future innovation will address consumers’ health and wellness needs.
“Consumers want ingredients that they recognize,” said Mark Clouse, executive vice-president and chief growth officer of Mondelez. “And if it’s on our ingredient line, a consumer should be able to find it in their kitchen. But changes like these can’t happen overnight if we want to ensure that we maintain great taste.”
By 2020, the company said it will reduce saturated fat and sodium by 10%, increase whole grain by 25%, and remove artificial colors and flavors from many of its brands, while making snacks lighter, improving the texture to match consumer preferences, and increasing transparency through front-of-pack labeling and easy access to nutritional information.
|Mark Clouse, executive v.p. and chief growth officer of Mondelez|
“We're not turning everything into health food,” Mr. Clouse said. “Indeed, there’s a proper place for treats in a balanced diet. Rather, our program is about making meaningful improvements in the areas that matter most to consumers and improving the balance of our portfolio.”
Triscuit crackers, for example, contain only three ingredients, with no artificial colors and flavors, and 100% whole grains, Mr. Clouse said.
“In addition, we’ve recently reduced sodium (in Triscuit products) by over 10% without compromising taste,” he added. “We’ve also added thinner, crispier formats to broaden appeal and usage occasion. And now, we’re going to take this model and replicate it on brands like Ritz, Wheat Thins, and Tuc.”
Better-for-you snacks represent more than a third of Mondelez’s total revenue and are growing at twice the rate of the company’s base business, Mr. Clouse said. BelVita breakfast biscuits, the company’s sustained energy platform with more than $600 million in revenue, has been growing at a rate of 20% over the last couple years, he said.
“As fuel and energy remain one of the fastest-growing consumer needs globally, we’ve added more formats and ranges to keep expanding penetration and growth,” Mr. Clouse said. “This is the same model we plan to follow on many of our well-being platforms, establish the brand and the benefit, and then extend it to formats that meet a wide range of needs and occasions.”
Mondelez also is planning a global expansion for its newly acquired Enjoy Life business, a maker of allergen-friendly snacks and baking mixes that are currently sold only in the United States.
“Over the next five years, we expect to focus 70% of our new product development efforts on well-being platforms,” Mr. Clouse said.
This year, a number of major food companies pledged to remove artificial ingredients from products. General Mills, Kellogg Co., Hershey Co., Nestle USA, Kraft Heinz Co. and others announced similar commitments.
Mondelez did not clarify which brands would be reformulated and did not respond to a request for comment.