Why Hershey’s Kisses Will Be Healthier This Holiday Season

November 12, 2015, 10:36 PM UTC
Courtesy of Hershey

Hershey’s Kisses and chocolate bars will soon be made with simple ingredients and no artificial flavors, changes to the candy’s formula as part of a broader commitment by the food giant to be more transparent about what goes into the food it sells.

The Hershey’s Kisses and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars are some of the first by the food company to transition to simpler ingredients, as Hershey (HSY) aims to highlight ingredients that are more familiar to consumers.

“We started making our great-tasting chocolate in 1894 with ingredients you might find in your pantry, like cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla, and we’re continuing that tradition today,” said Mary-Ann Somers, vice president and general manager of US Confection at Hershey. “People want to see ingredients that they know and are familiar with in their foods and we’re listening.”

The move is part of a broader shift from Big Food companies to tinker with the formulas of popular food items that have been found in kitchen pantries and refrigerators for decades, but are seeing sales slow as millennials and health-conscious consumers ditch well-known brands for alternatives sold by food startups. To pivot, brands like Diet Pepsi, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup all have announced or implemented changes to their formulas to remove ingredients that Big Food companies think are problematic.

Earlier this year, Hershey CEO John Bilbrey old analysts that he believed higher income consumers wanted simple ingredients in their food, while millennials were motivated to make purchases based on brand attributes beyond transparency – including social responsibility.

The chocolate maker is promising to be transparent. It will pilot a label on the company’s Kisses packages that can be scanned via a mobile device to learn more about the snack’s ingredients, nutritional facts and allergens.

“There is a growing expectation for companies to provide more transparency about all that goes into their products,” Somers said, explaining why Hershey was opting to pilot the program this holiday season.

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