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As suppliers look into the issue of whether or not to switch their sweeteners, there’s new evidence they’ll want to consider: Recent shopper data released from Nielsen suggests that HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)-free products have not improved product sales. In fact, in some cases, sales have fallen after manufacturers switched to HFCS-free products.
The collection of shopper data is part of a comprehensive review of retail products that switched to HFCS-free formulations. The review started in 2010 and covers the performance of 25 leading brands of more than 3,200 SKUs in beverages, baked goods and prepared foods based on data going back to 2006.
Regardless of market strategy, brands that switched have continually seen flat or falling marketing share, according to Nielsen.
For instance, a major brand of canned soup was experiencing declining brand share volume in the market. Its product reformulation to HFCS-free in 2008 has done nothing to reverse that trend and has actually resulted in more than a 10 percent decline in market share, Nielsen found.
Likewise, a major brand of fresh bread has seen its volume share decline slowly but steadily since product reformulation to HFCS-free in 2006.
In the juice drink category, a major brand ended up switching back to using HFCS in August 2011 after seeing negative results from reformulating its product. At times, its share of the total juice drink market dipped by 5 percent.
The story is similar for major brands of ketchup, table syrup, granola bars, snack crackers and liquid tea.