Bowing to skyrocketing obesity rates and public pressure General Mills said Monday that it will phase out artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereals by 2017. The announcement is the latest from an ever-growing group of food retailers vowing to ax artificial ingredients, including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Panera, Kraft Foods Group and Subway.
“We’ve continued to listen to consumers who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels and challenged ourselves to remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals,” said Jim Murphy, president of General Mills cereal division, in a statement.
Packaged-food companies are losing market share and seeing revenue fall as consumers turn toward brands known for less processed, simpler, more authentic food. Many companies are trying to draw back customers’ attention by redoing products with fewer complex ingredients and taking stands against additives like antibiotics in meat.
Fast-food and fast-casual chains have been moving away from artificial ingredients as they look to gain more favor with consumers seeking natural foods. Panera said it is in the process of removing artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by the end of 2016. Subway, McDonald’s and Chipotle also have gotten rid of ingredients in certain items that customers are turned off by, such as genetically modified organisms and chemicals that also are used in non-food products such as yoga mats and shoe soles.
Taco Bell’s nacho cheese no longer will be colored with yellow No. 6 as the chain plans to get rid of artificial flavors and colors by the end of the year. Pizza Hut is booting fake coloring and flavors from almost all pizzas except a few local offerings by the end of July.