Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:00 AM
Beverage companies move away from high fructose corn syrup
By DAVE WILKINS
U.S. sugar farmers hope the recent move by some beverage makers back to sugar becomes permanent.
Several beverage makers, including Pepsi, Dr Pepper and Snapple have rolled out products that contain sugar as the primary sweetener, replacing high fructose corn syrup.
Pepsi first test marketed Pepsi Throwback in March 2009. The company began a second national, eight-week test of the sugar-sweetened beverage on Dec. 28.
Throwback's label says it will be available for "a limited time only," but the sugar industry hopes it will find a permanent place on store shelves. The Throwback campaign, for both Pepsi and Mountain Dew, is currently scheduled to end Feb. 22.
"Obviously it was favorable enough the first time around that Pepsi decided to do it again," said Andy Briscoe, CEO of the Sugar Association.
Pepsi isn't the only beverage maker making the switch.
Dr Pepper recently released Heritage Dr Pepper and Gatorade has made a similar announcement to move back to sugar. Snapple and Jones Soda have likewise moved away from high fructose corn syrup.
Briscoe updated sugar beet growers on the trend during the Snake River Sugar Co. annual meeting Thursday, Jan. 7, in Twin Falls, Idaho.
In a separate interview, Briscoe said the switch to sugar has been driven by economics, product availability and consumers' preference for natural, good-tasting ingredients.
Sugar is the only sweetener that's all natural, has only 15 calories per teaspoon and has safely been used for more than 2,000 years, he said.
"Plus, it's a sweetener you can pronounce," Briscoe said.
Growers are excited about the move toward more sugar-sweetened beverages.
"Hopefully it will continue. We're biased, but we think it tastes better," said Mark Duffin, executive director of the Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association.
The price of high fructose corn syrup has increased as more and more of the nation's corn crop has been diverted to ethanol production. Typically, high fructose corn syrup costs about 20 to 40 percent less than wholesale refined sugar, but since early 2008 it's been about the same price, according to USDA's Economic Research Service.
Sugar is still the No. 1 sweetener in the United States, with a 38 percent market share, Briscoe said.
High fructose corn syrup is second with 31 percent, and it's tracking downward.
High fructose corn syrup deliveries have dropped 15 percent, or about 800,000 tons, since 2002, he said.
It was introduced into the U.S. soft drink market in the 1970s and '80s. At the time, it was about half the price of sugar.
"It was strictly an economic decision by Coke and Pepsi," Briscoe said. "Consumers went along with it, but now they're being more demanding in taste."
Other countries, including Mexico, most of Latin American and Europe, stuck with sugar, Briscoe said.
The switch back to sugar in the United States comes at a profitable time for many producers.
Since early 2008, U.S. wholesale refined sugar prices have increased roughly 40 percent, according to USDA.
"We've been really blessed with strong demand," Briscoe said. "It looks like 2010 is going to be just as strong, if not stronger than 2009."
U.S. sugar beet growers' widespread use of genetically modified Roundup Ready varieties hasn't had any discernible effect on demand.
"Sugar is sugar," Briscoe said.
Posted By: Zebe On: 6/12/2011
Title: To Audrae Erickson
High fructose corn syrup is "synthetically" produced from genetically altered corn. It is not the same as sugar--as it is unbound--and that is not normal in nature. High fructose corn syrup may even be killing the honeybees:
Also, if people prefer the taste of real "sugar" then they will be willing to pay more at the check out. Your commercials with two women discussing that artificial red drink being given to children at a party--was the reason I began to research on the Internet. I have avoided HFCS for many years.
People deserve a choice--and that is what is happening. The more you indicate that these people are "stupid," the more you are alienating your product. You are actually helping the health of Americans by causing this resentment. Trying to change the name has caused even more concern. Perhaps you are an "angel in disguise" trying to change or even bring down the processed corn industry from the inside. If so, thank you and keep up the good work.
Posted By: Andrew "the Alchemist" On: 1/18/2010
Title: Culinary & Mixological Instructor
It may be true that high-fructose corn sweetener has not been found at this time to be any worse for anyone's health than regular sugar (sucrose). What I am primarily concerned with in my field is flavor. Fructose can enhance fruit flavors, but can also enhance bitter flavors and leave an aftertaste. That is why I make my simple sugar syrup for drinks using the cold process. If I want a sugar syrup to enhance fruit flavors, I make the sugar syrup using the hot process, which breaks some of the sucrose intpo glucose and fructose. Even in that application, I notice a bit of aftertaste that I don't enjoy. There is a very good reason to choose 'real' sugar (sucrose) over high fructose corn sweetener - it tastes a lot better in most applications. For me, that is reason enough. That is why I haven't purchased a soft drink made with high fructose corn sweetener in years, except to do flavor comparisons for my apprentices and students. Virtually all of them taste a real difference and prefers the drinks with 'real' sugar.
The high fructose corn weetener crowd can't win in the long-term. There is nothing they can do against the superior flavor of 'real' sugar and little they can do against the rising public fear, well-grounded or not, of their own product. They can, and will, spend money on advertising. But an advertising campaign that is based around the claim that a product is, at best, 'no worse' than the better-tasting alternative is one that makes me laugh every time I see it. It mostly confirms that enough people are walking away from their product that it's beginning to hurt.
Posted By: Audrae Erickson, Corn Refiners Association On: 1/15/2010
Title: Natural Sweeteners
High fructose corn syrup is made from corn, a natural grain product. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for use of the term “natural.”
Consumers are being misled into thinking that there are nutritional differences between high fructose corn syrup and sugar, when in fact they are nutritionally the same. Whether from cane, beets, or corn, a sugar is a sugar. They all contain four calories per gram. Switching out a kind of corn sugar for table sugar is not for health and it is not for science. It is unfortunate that consumers are being duped by these marketing gimmicks, which may result in higher food prices at checkout.
High fructose corn syrup is more economical and functionally superior to sugar, it is equally sweet, has the same number of calories and is handled similarly by the body. High fructose corn syrup offers numerous benefits, too. It keeps foods fresh. It enhances fruit and spice flavors. It retains moisture in bran cereals and helps keep breakfast bars moist.
Consumers can read the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup at www.SweetSurprise.com.