Sugar is Back on Food Labels

Published online: Mar 24, 2009 Sugar Journal News
Sugar, the nutritional pariah that dentists and dietitians have long reviled, is enjoying a second act, dressed up as a natural, healthful ingredient. From the tomato sauce on a Pizza Hut pie called "The Natural," to the just-released soda Pepsi Natural, some of the biggest players in the American food business have started, in the last few months, replacing high-fructose corn syrup with old-fashioned sugar. ConAgra uses only sugar or honey in its new Healthy Choice All Natural frozen entrees. Kraft Foods recently removed the corn sweetener from its salad dressings, and is working on its Lunchables line of portable meals and snacks. The turnaround comes after three decades during which high-fructose corn syrup had been gaining on sugar in the American diet. Consumption of the two finally drew even in 2003, according to the Department of Agriculture. Recently, though, the trend has reversed. Per capita, American adults ate about 44 pounds of sugar in 2007, compared with about 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup. "Sugar was the old devil, and high-fructose corn syrup is the new devil," said Marcia Mogelonsky, a senior analyst at Mintel International, a market-research company. With sugar sales up, the Sugar Association last year ended its Sweet by Nature campaign, which pointed out that sugar is found in fruits and vegetables, said Andy Briscoe, president of the association. "Obviously, demand is moving in the right direction so we are taking a break," Mr. Briscoe said.