When food marketers remove their products from store shelves, it’s seldom accompanied by an announcement. In the case of Kind’s Fruit Bites, the company accompanied the product’s removal with an outdoor installation in one of Manhattan’s busiest tourist areas to kick off a campaign against the use of synthetic dyes in foods.
Kind is removing Fruit Bites from store shelves after two years on the market, even though they actually do not contain synthetic dyes. Fruit Bites didn't sell well, in part because American kids are now accustomed to eating foods that are artificially colorful, according to the company.
“Kids regretfully prefer to eat fruit snacks that resembled candy gems versus the dried, whole fruit that Kind uses in its products,” the company said in a news release. Fruit Bites will continue to be sold on the kindsnacks.com website.
On Tuesday, Kind erected a display in Herald Square containing eight giant test tubes filled with a total of 2,000 gallons of synthetic dyes, representing what the company says approximates the amount of dye America’s children consume daily. It’s the opening salvo in an effort to call attention to what Kind considers the excess use of synthetic dyes in cereals and sugary beverages, fruit snacks, yogurt and applesauce, among other foods.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, studies show some children experience episodes of inattention, hyperactivity and other harmful behavioral effects following exposure to synthetic dyes.
A week ago, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment sponsored a two-day scientific symposium to discuss the potential neurobehavioral effects in children of synthetic food dyes.
So what was the public response to the 24-hour Herald Square installation, during which Kind representatives also discussed the Fruit Bites retail withdrawal?
“We’ve learned that people are unaware of not only how much synthetic dye they’re consuming daily, but also how unexpected items like yogurts, popcorn and fruit cups often contain synthetic dyes,” Stephanie Csaszar, health & wellness expert at Kind, tells Marketing Daily. “We’ve found that consumers are unsettled by the discovery of the issue at hand, which has compelled us to continue to act and educate parents on the use of dyes in their kids’ foods so they can make more informed eating decisions.”
Kind is no stranger to controversy, or to calling out competitors for their ingredients. In June, the company debuted a television commercial depicting two airline passengers opening snack bars -- one from Clif, the other from Kind. A brown liquid oozes from the Clif package as the voiceover intones, “Did you know the first ingredient in this Clif bar is brown rice syrup, which is just another name for sugar?”
Kind continues to run the commercial on national TV and online video platforms. “We feel that the most important and kindest thing we can do is provide people with straightforward information as they choose their snacks,” is how Csaszar responds to a query about the TV spot.