U.S. chocolate giant Hershey has announced that it “will transition some of its most popular chocolate brands, including Hershey's Kisses Milk Chocolates and Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars to simpler ingredients." The shift comes in response to tens of thousands of Facebook posts, emails and telephone calls from consumers who took part in a recent campaign spearheaded by GMO Inside, calling on Hershey's to move to non-GMO ingredients.
Hershey's confirmed that as part of its commitment to simpler ingredients, its two iconic products, Hershey's Kisses and Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars, will be non-GMO by the end of the year.
In their recent statement, Hershey’s outlines three key principles for moving forward:
- Simplifying its ingredients to names people can recognize
- Sharing more sourcing and manufacturing information, and
- Working with suppliers towards sourcing 100 percent certified and sustainable cocoa and certified, sustainable and traceable palm oil.
"We congratulate Hershey's on this important move and great first step. As one of the leading chocolate companies in the U.S., this commitment will help move the rest of the companies in this sector,” said Green America Food Campaigns Director Nicole McCann. “Hershey's joins General Mills, Unilever, Post Foods, and other leading companies in responding to consumer demand to make at least some of its products non-GMO."
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In February 2013, GMO Inside - which is dedicated to helping Americans understand which foods have GMOs, and removing GMOs and toxins from the food supply - began calling on consumers to put pressure on Hershey's (as well as Mars) to make its products GMO-free due to concerns about the environmental and health impacts of GMOs. As a result, thousands of consumers emailed Hershey’s urging it to remove GMOs.
In December, when Hershey's announced it was exploring transitioning away from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), GMO Inside mobilized consumers to call the company and urge it not to use any other form of GMO sugar, such as from GMO sugar beets; and then again called on consumers to post on the company's Facebook page on Valentine's Day.
"Hershey's needs to take the next step and go non-GMO with all of its chocolates, and get third-party verification for non-GMO ingredients. This includes sourcing milk from cows not fed GMOs and agreeing to prohibit any synthetic biology ingredients, starting with vanilla," stated John Roulac, co-chair of GMO Inside. "Consumers are increasingly looking for non-GMO products and verification, and Hershey's and its competitors would be wise to offer third-party verified non-GMO products to consumers."
Hershey’s is in good company as other candy giants are also moving towards simpler and responsibly made chocolate products: In the past month, Nestlé committed to removing all artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of this year, and Mars announced it will source Fairtrade-certified cocoa for its MARS® Bars in the United Kingdom and Ireland by October 2015.