Candy giant Mars, Inc. has announced they will remove artificial colors from all of its human food products, over the course of the next five years.
Their press release noted that the change isn’t because artificial colors pose risks to humans; Mars simply says its “part of a commitment to meet evolving consumer preferences.” Mars will continue trying to keep their flagship candies like M&M’s and Skittles vibrant, opting to develop vibrant natural colors instead.
Mars joins a growing list of food companies that’re heeding to the public’s cry against artificial ingredients. Early in 2016, Kraft announced its bestselling Macaroni & Cheese will lose its vintage orange tint, forgoing all synthetic colouring. Nestle, General Mills, and Noodles & Company made similar promises for their products as well.
Regardless of the FDA’s stance that artificial colourings do not cause conditions like hyperactivity, or even warrant warning labels, consumers still object to their continued usage (42% of consumers consider it ‘very important’). Technical, scary-sounding names for the dyes probably don’t help either, like ‘FD&C Red 40’, which is more commonly known as ‘red’.
The change doesn’t only affect the ridiculously coloured or ‘fake looking’ foods; dye is used in mass-produced foods regularly. Food specialists already speculate swapping out the synthetic stuff for dyes produced from real ingredients will be difficult and expensive.
But companies like Mars don’t really have a choice if they want to remain relevant. In the food business, the consumer is king.