News Feature | January 28, 2014

PepsiCo And Others Are Phasing Out "Natural" Branding

Source: Food Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Natural Seal

Regardless of catalyst, big players in food and beverage manufacturing are undergoing some rebranding efforts

Some of the world’s largest makers of snack foods and beverages have been busy giving some of their products new branding. For instance, PepsiCo’s line of “Simply Natural” Frito-Lay chips has been changed to the more basic “Simply.” Additionally, its “Natural Quaker Granola” have been renamed “Simply Quaker Granola.”

PepsiCo says the rebranding effort, which began last year, is the result of the company updating its marketing agenda. “We constantly update our marketing and packaging,” says Candace Mueller-Medina, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo's Quaker brand. However, the changes are coming at a time when food and beverage manufacturers are facing legal obstacles regarding the use of the world “natural.” Currently, the FDA doesn’t have a definition of the term “natural,” but doesn’t object to using the word, so long as the product doesn’t contain “added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” In spite of this, lawsuits are emerging that challenge whether ingredients in “natural” products fit the bill.

Food manufacturers, like PepsiCo, are beginning to realize using the world “natural” may be more trouble than it’s worth. Last year, PepsiCo removed the phrase “all natural” from its line of Naked juices after a lawsuit found that the beverages contained artificial ingredients. The company also discontinued its Gatorade Natural products, claiming the beverages didn’t “resonate” with core consumers.

PepsiCo isn’t alone in withdrawing from using the term “natural.” Campbell Soup was taken to court in 2012 for calling the company’s Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers “natural” despite containing genetically modified ingredients. Campbell Soup removed the word from the redesigned cracker package, but claimed it was the result of marketing changes.

While companies, like PepsiCo, are rebranding many products with the world “simply,” this term isn’t completely void of conflict either. The Center for Science in the Public Interest met with General Mills in 2010 regarding the labels of some of the company’s products. “Simply Fruit” products were given a good amount of attention, as the products contained not just fruit, but canola oil and carrot juice. While it could be argued that the product label is misleading, General Mills responded simply, “it isn’t.”

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