These days many consumers are asking for, and subsequently purchasing, more foods with all-natural ingredients. Consumer buying habits are changing, whether it's due to education or, in some cases, new government-mandated laws (e.g. the war on trans fat). I don't know about you, but I never really thought about the ripple effect here. Who's getting more business because of these changes? Who's getting the shaft?
Well, the Corn Refiners Association's stance is that the resurgence of sugar sodas is bad news for corn farmers. Surely, you've seen the limited-edition Pepsi Throwback which boasted real sugar. Even some Costco stores are selling Mexican-made Coca-Cola with sugar. Sugar is making a comeback. But where does that leave the corn farmers and their vats of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)?
To combat the surge in popularity of real sugar sodas (and the reduction of HFCS in salad dressings, barbecue sauces, juice drinks, and more), the Corn Refiners Association is launching an all out PR campaign. It spent $12 million in media buys in just the first half of this year. New commercials defending the value of high-fructose corn syrup are on their way to female-focused and family-friendly networks. The Association is even reaching out to mommy bloggers to tell them that HFCS is pretty much the same as sugar, with a similar calorie count.
High-fructose corn syrup has been the sweetener of choice for soda makers in America since 1984. It is, after all, much cheaper than sugar. However, with the "full calorie" soda category flat to slightly down in recent years, the Association is acting quickly to prevent further revenue declines.
And, I can't help but to see the irony. I think it's the consumers who are making a point to buy groceries with all-natural ingredients who are probably the ones who are most sympathetic to the plight of the American farmer. No right or wrong answer on this one (after all, sugar does come from farmers, too!), just something to think about next time you make your selection at the office soda machine.