Despite industry-wide defense of high-fructose corn syrup as no better/no worse than sugar, Hershey Co. confirmed reports Dec. 4 that it may replace HFCS with sugar in some products because of consumer pressure.
"One of the things we are actively exploring is replacing high-fructose corn syrup with sugar in some products," company spokesman Jeff Beckman said in a statement to several media and first reported by Associated Press.
Counter to that "exploring" statement, Beckman also was quoted as saying the switch was "just underway" although there is no time frame for its completion. Nor were any specific Hershey products mentioned.
This comes despite a Feb. 20 Hershey web posting emphasizing the safety of HFCS and its equivalency to sugar.
Coincidentally, the price of sugar (16.48 cents per pound for October) was the lowest since January of this year and, except for January, the lowest it's been since mid-2010.
Per capita consumption of HFCS is in decline, which industry sources attribute to less demand for soft drinks and rising consumer scrutiny of the corn-based sweetener, reports Associated Press.
The Corn Refiners Assn., which represents the major processors of HFCS, continues to mount an aggressive marketing campaign to counter the negative news. The campaign points out a number of products in recent years that trumpeted their elimination of HFCS, only to return to the corn sweetener when the switch caused no increase in sales or positive consumer sentiment for their product.
Most scientific studies find no difference between the body's metabolism of sugar and HFCS, but a small handful, often disputed, found more weight gain with HFCS.