Nestlé to remove all artificial ingredients from US confectionery

Food giant Nestlé has pledged to remove all artificial flavours and colours from its chocolate and sweets in the US.

The Swiss firm said that it would get rid of artificial ingredients from more than 250 products by the end of 2015, making it the first major American confectionery manufacturer to ban such additives.

Nestlé, which made about £4.6-billion in confectionery sales worldwide in the first nine months of 2014, said that the decision was due to growing demand from customers for foods made with natural ingredients.

A study in 2014 found that more than 60 per cent of Americans were put off buying foods by the presence of artificial colours or flavours.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president of Nestlé’s American confectionery and snacks division in a statement.

“As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavours and colours without affecting taste or increasing the price. We’re excited to be the first major US candy manufacturer to make this commitment.”

Around 75 recipes will need to be tweaked by Nestlé over the next year to meet the new rules. The firm said it was exploring natural alternatives, such as using annatto, a natural yellow colouring made from the seeds of the achiote tree, to colour the centre of its Butterfinger bars, rather than the artificial colours Red 40 and Yellow 5.

Other confectionery manufacturers are also looking at making their products more appealing to a health-conscious market. American firm Hershey, which makes products such as Reese’s Pieces, said in December that it was planning to begin using sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, the cheap sweetener that has been accused of driving up diabetes levels.

Mars pledged back in 2012 to cut the calorie content of its single-serve products to a maximum of 250 calories.