Consumers — at the grocery store and restaurants — are increasingly demanding sodas and other products sweetened with sugar, not corn syrup.
The trend is so strong that the Corn Refiners Assn. has launched a major marketing campaign and Internet site . . . to defend the sweetener.
High fructose corn syrup has become a favorite target of the health-conscious as an alleged cause of America's obesity boom. A typical 2-liter bottle of soda contains 15 ounces of corn syrup, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Whether it's really at fault is open to debate.
The Corn Refiners Assn. contends that high fructose corn syrup is just as natural as table sugar and honey. Others say it's not natural at all, because it is manufactured through a chemical process and does not occur in nature by itself. The Center for Science in the Public Interest called the corn refiners' campaign "deceptive."
Most medical research says it is the calories, rather than the sweetener, that make a difference to a person's health. And sugar and high fructose corn syrup have identical calorie counts.
. . . The Corn Refiners Assn. is reacting to a steady slide in sales of high fructose corn sweetener . . . so many consumers have become wary of corn sweeteners that smaller drink makers such as Hansen, Jones and Thomas Kemper have reformulated their sodas to use cane sugar.
Taco Bell and other fast-food chains have added sugar-sweetened beverages as alternatives to their corn sweetener-laden soft drink menu.
Meanwhile, U.S. sales of Coca-Cola Classic made with corn sweetener fell 5.5% last year, according to the Beverage Industry 2008 Soft Drink Report. Sprite dropped 9.2%, Pepsi-Cola was down 8.9% and Mountain Dew declined 3.1%.
The growing popularity of bottled water and other drinks is one reason for the decline of sweet carbonated drinks. But shoppers say drinks made with sugar cane just taste better.
"It has a crisper flavor, not as cloying. I think it is a better-flavored drink," said Charlie Howell, who periodically finds cane-sugar-sweetened Coca-Cola imported from Mexico at the Costco in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Sugar Makes a Comeback
A recent article from the L.A. Times: