Industry News | August 4, 2011

Consumers Don’t Mind Feeding Sweet Tooth With HFCS

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Most consumers look to avoid total added sugars, not high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) specifically, according to a recent study designed and executed by Mintel Research Consultancy.

In the study, more than 2,000 consumers were asked a series of questions about their dietary habits. By asking participants unaided (or open-ended) questions, the survey helped determine what was “top of mind” for consumers with regard to sweeteners.

Specifically, the study found that 17 percent of consumers were trying to avoid “sugar or added sugar,” as opposed to only 4 percent who indicated that they were looking to avoid HFCS. In the same question, 37 percent of consumers indicated that they were avoiding calories, while 20 percent were avoiding fats and oils.

“This study of thousands of consumers truly shows what is ‘top of mind’ when reading food and beverage package labels. It’s very telling that only 4 percent of consumers are avoiding HFCS,” says David Lockwood, senior analyst, Mintel Research Consultancy. “Mintel identified a major gap between what people say and what they really do. The answers to these unaided responses are the best indicators of true attitudes and behaviors.”

Additionally, in reading package labels for information, a quarter of respondents indicated that they were looking for “sugar or added sugar.” By contrast, only 3 percent indicated that they were reading labels for HFCS. In the same question, 38 percent of consumers read labels for fats and oils, while 37 percent read for calories.

“Consumers are independently confirming that HFCS is not a top of mind issue,” says Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association. “In fact, one in four consumers is not focused on ingredients at all.”