Thursday, April 22, 2010

Maybe it was the name...

High fructose corn syrup was named by a chemist, I'll bet. It described the product and the label was invested way before modern marketing became the final arbiter of all corporate communication.  And my guess is had somebody at ADM or Cargill just said, "Let's call it 'enriched corn syrup' or something less arcane the building backlash would have been less.
Choosing sugar for its reputed health properties might sound bizarre, but it makes sense for some of the nation's biggest food-makers.

From Gatorade sports drinks to Heinz ketchup, familiar products are being reformulated with that well-known wonder food: snowy-white, refined cane sugar.

It's a quiet revolution, since many of these same companies see no advantage in bashing the ingredient that sugar increasingly is replacing: corn syrup.

Reading the labels of processed food today, a shopper might wonder whether high-fructose corn syrup makes up the very stuff of the universe. It's seemingly everywhere, from soup and salad dressing to bakery goods — and especially soft drinks.

But corn syrup carries a taint in the marketplace. Some U.S. consumers believe the grain-derived sweetener contributes more to obesity than an equal amount of sugar.

Like golfer Tiger Woods, corn syrup has a team of spin doctors working on its image, and many researchers find nothing particularly bad about it. Some do, however, including a team at Princeton University that found lab rats gained more weight eating corn syrup than sugar.

The study's much-debated details hardly matter. Whatever the facts, the lobbyists at the Corn Refiners Association don't stand a chance in the credibility contest against Princeton, which is bad news for Midwest syrup-makers such as Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc. and Corn Products International Inc. [More]

I don't think the Princeton study will endure as breakthrough science, but the obesity epidemic and food dissatisfaction - how it is produced, how it tastes, and what it means - will be around. I keep looking for some possible link to HFCS and satiety at which point soda makers will drop it like a hot rock. 

That has NOT been proven. But the "if -you-can't-pronounce-it-don't-eat-it" adage is hard to stomp out of existence. Of course, maybe nobody even suspected HFCS would become the workhorse ingredient to titillate our sweetness cravings.

But it nonetheless could be shrinking market simply because it doesn't sound like something the average consumer wants to ingest.

See also: Chilean sea bass.

1 comment:

Jay said...

I find the last paragraph of the copy/paste kinda funny. It reads to me as: "It doesn't matter how the study was conducted because all the data is good."