HERSHEY, PA. — Just a day after competitor Nestle USA announced a similar commitment, the Hershey Co. said it will begin transitioning to simple and easy-to-understand ingredients in such products as Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars and Hershey’s Kisses.
“The dialogue around consumers’ changing relationship with food is prevalent,” John P. Bilbrey, president and chief executive officer, told investors on Feb. 18 at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Boca Raton, Fla. “Consumers are telling all manufacturers that they want to recognize all of the ingredients in their food and that what they are consuming is made with the fewest ingredients possible.”
Hershey said it will begin making products with such recognizable ingredients as milk from local farms, roasted California almonds, cocoa beans and sugar. The company will share information on ingredients, sourcing, manufacturing and labeling with consumers on packaging and on-line. Additionally, the company said it will continue to work with suppliers to responsibly source sustainable ingredients, including 100% certified and sustainable cocoa and certified sustainable and traceable palm oil. The company is moving to non-bioengineered sugar and milk from cows not treated with rBST.
“We will strive for simplicity with all of our ingredients, but we may not achieve it with every product,” Mr. Bilbrey said. “This is a journey and it will take time. We are equally committed to sharing what we achieve and what we don’t. For ingredients that may not be as simple, we will explain what they are and why we need them to provide the great flavors, aromas, textures and appearances that our consumers know and love.”
In addition to transitioning some of its most popular chocolate brands this year, Hershey is set to introduce Brookside Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bars, which contains no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or artificial colors.
From Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars and Hershey’s Kisses, the company is removing lactose, vanillin and artificial flavor and adding natural flavor. Hershey also is dropping polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), an emulsifier, from its chocolate bars.
Hershey said it will invest in higher initial supply costs to make the changes but has no plans to increase prices on reformulated products. Hershey raised wholesale prices across its portfolio last year to offset significant increases in input costs, including raw materials, packaging, utilities and transportation.On Feb. 17, Nestle USA, the maker of such confectionery brands as Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth, said it will remove all flavors perceived as artificial and Food and Drug Administration-certified colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015. Products will begin appearing on retail shelves by the middle of the year and carry the claim “No artificial colors or flavors” on each product’s label.