Sweetener Issue Looks to be Mostly Talk, Little Action for Store Brands

The sweetener issue is "absolutely on the radar," according to industry executives such as Pat Nicolino, who serves as vice president of marketing for Carneys Point, N.J.-based Clement Pappas & Co. Inc., maker of private label juice and tea products.
“It is critical for us to watch what the national brands are doing, since we have to come out with national brand equivalents,” Nicolino noted. “If a major brand switches sweeteners, we have to offer our customers the same option.”
However, while retailers and others in the industry are talking about sweeteners, there isn’t much action, she said. “High-fructose corn syrup has been demonized as an individual ingredient,” she noted, adding that buying behavior has not supported the negative hype around HFCS.
Mike Hackbarth, vice president of private label at The Fremont Company, Fremont, Ohio, concurs. “High-fructose corn syrup has been the accepted sweetener for many decades and is still the main sweetener used by the No. 1 ketchup brand, Heinz,” he said.
Hackbarth said his company, which makes store-brand ketchup and barbecue sauce, has offered an all-natural ketchup made with sugar for the past five years and organic ketchup for the past 10 years. Both products have performed well, but Fremont plans to continue offering its mainline product, which contains HFCS.