Hershey’s New Nutrition Offensive

Hershey Chocolate Bar

It always cracks us up to read about nutrition initiatives coming from candy companies. You’ve got to hand it to them, they keep trying. This time it’s the Hershey Company, stalwart of the chocolate addiction industry in the US. In a press release earlier this week, Hershey announced that it

will provide front-of-pack nutrition information to make it simple and easy for consumers to make choices about the role of confection in their lifestyle.

Hershey will begin to roll out front-of-pack nutrition information in the second half of 2013 and will evolve its product packaging across its varied pack types over the next several years. Read more…

The label format Hershey will be working with is based on an industry wide initiative called Facts Up Front. This program was announced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group, 18 months ago. We are not fans, you can read why here.

While the Hershey announcement sounds like a great step towards transparency, we foresee it as a means to provide consumers a reason to eat more candy:

1. The information presented is per serving, not per package. For single serve packages, this is one and the same. But many products packs include 2, or 2.5 servings which most people consume in one sitting. By showing information “per serving” , not “per package”, consumers will believe they are eating much less calories than they actually are.

2. The sugar count appears in grams, not teaspoons. The standard chocolate candy has 24 grams of sugar. That’s what you’ll see on the label. Most consumers can’t relate to that. But what if the label said “6 teaspoons”?

3. “Facts Up Front” allows manufacturers to provide information about positive nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and calcium. Milk Chocolate has some calcium in it. Why do have a hunch that Calcium information will appear in the front of pack information creating a scepter of health, where there is none?

Now don’t get us wrong. We like chocolate. The problem is that we, same as you, like it too much. Hershey would best help us if its front of pack information would clarify portion control. But that would lead us to eat less chocolate. And Hershey can’t have any of that now, can it?

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  • The Candid RD

    I think it’s important to educate people that 1 tsp. has 4 grams of sugar. That way they can relate to grams/tsp. better. I tell my clients that they should aim for no more than 24 tsp/6 tsp added sugar per day (W) and 36/9 tsp for men. What I can’t wait for is the ADDED sugar listed on labels!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cherry.pie.and.roses Brenda Smith Rayburn

    In their defense (and my own chocolate-addicted self), Hershey with almonds does have the lowest sugar content of all candy bars on the market. Believe me, I have spent quite some time researching this so I can adhere to a low-carb diet. I have no problem with nutrition information, including sugar, being set in grams vs. teaspoons because not all sweet ingredients convert or are measurable in teaspoons.

  • HowieG

    “Hershey would best help us if its front of pack information would clarify portion control.” Is it really that difficult to turn a package to it’s back to find serving size information? People, at the end of the day, need to be informed and then they need to make up their own minds on how to live their lives. Environmental change is important but we cannot overlook personal responsibility. If the math is too difficult to figure out on a per serving basis then grab your smart phone and push the calculator button. If you are not comfortable with calories or know what they mean to you – then we must rethink how (and why) we are focusing on calories – from calling it out front of pack to putting it on restaurant menus. And, what does “per serving” really mean? If I need 3000 calories per day and someone else needs 1800 calories, isn’t my “per serving” allotment for all foods across the board higher? So with the current system – focused on a 2000 calorie diet – some may still be overeating (if they need less than 2000 calories/day – which is every woman 5 foot 2 and under) and others may be unnecessarily denying themselves a little more food. Eating and dietary needs are so very personalized that we can’t rely on a one size fits all model – which is our current 2000 calorie model.

  • LizzRoxx22

    I agree with HowieG. There is an element of personal responsibility for the consumer. It appears Hershey’s corp is taking steps necessary to inform the public about their product. It frightens me to think that the consumer needs to be spoonfed all their nutritional information in this generation of knowledge and technology. As a consumer, i think its important not to blur the line between the corporations responsibility to inform the public, and the publics responsibility to to check the facts.

  • Adam

    Gram is mass, teaspoon is volume. Mass is a much more objective measure, easier to standardize and very specific. Also less prone to rounding.