Del Monte Foods, Nestlé, and Dannon recently became the latest major food companies to replace genetically modified ingredients with non-GMO alternatives. Del Monte, one of the nation’s largest producers of branded food products, announced plans for an increase in non-GMO product offerings and conversion to non-BPA packaging. Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream, the largest ice cream maker in the world, announced that it would remove GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavors in its ice cream products, including Dreyer’s, Häagen-Dazs®, Outshine®, Skinny Cow®, Nestlé® Ice Cream and Nestlé® Drumstick®. Dannon, the U.S.’s leading yogurt maker, pledged to using more non-GMO ingredients in its products, transitioning to non-GMO feed for its dairy cows, and labeling products containing GMO ingredients.
With the moves, Del Monte, Nestlé, and Dannon join the growing number of major food companies and brands that are switching to non-GMO ingredients. These include General Mills’ Cheerios, Post Grape Nuts, Hershey’s chocolates, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Similac infant formula, and Chobani yogurts, among others.
Del Monte labeling 70 products as non-GMO
While the fruits, vegetables and tomatoes in Del Monte products have always been non-GMO, some added ingredients for sweeteners or flavorings have traditionally been sourced from GM crops like corn or soybeans. In 2016 all added ingredients in all Del Monte vegetables and fruit cups, and most tomato products will be non-GMO, representing a majority of its product line (154 products in total). In 2015, Del Monte began the process of verifying non-GMO ingredients from suppliers, and, where necessary, sourcing replacement non-GMO ingredients, and successfully labeled 70 vegetable and tomato products as non-GMO. All non-GMO Del Monte products will be clearly labeled.
Nils Lommerin, chief executive officer for Del Monte Foods, said the company’s non-GMO move marks a significant progression for the brand. “These actions reflect our ongoing commitment to providing high quality fruit, vegetables and tomatoes, and meeting evolving consumer preferences,” he said.
Nestlé simplifying ingredients
Nestlé announced that nine of its most popular Dreyer’s Slow Churned flavors will now be branded Slow Churned Simple Recipes, to reflect their simpler ingredient profile. The new recipes feature a label with seven or eight ingredients, reduced from an average of 22. Additional changes include the removal of all artificial colors and flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and GMO ingredients along with the addition of fresh milk from cows not treated with rBST. Examples of specific ingredients removed include carrageenan and xantham gum, replaced with ingredients such as pectin. Nationwide roll-out for the newly updated products began in March 2016.
“Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream understands that consumers want to know what’s in their food, where those ingredients come from and how the food products they purchase are made,” said Robert Kilmer, president, Nestlé Dreyer’s Ice Cream. “Using simpler ingredients that our consumers can recognize, and removing those that don’t belong, is a natural next step for our brands.”
Dannon commits to non-GMO ingredients and feed
Starting this July Dannon will move to more natural ingredients which do not contain genetically modified ingredients for its flagship brands Oikos, Danimals and Dannon. These brands represent 50 percent of the company’s current volume.
In 2017, Dannon will work with its farmer partners to ensure that the cows that supply the company’s milk for these products will be fed non-GMO feed, a first for a leading non-organic yogurt maker. Dannon will complete the transition to non-GMO feed by 2018.
Dannon’s rival Chobani had previously committed to using non-GMO ingredients and is also working to secure a supply of non-GMO feed for its dairy cows.
Dannon has also committed to labeling for the presence of GMO ingredients in its products nationwide by December 2017 following a similar commitment made by the Campbell Soup Company earlier this year.
Dannon’s pledge also includes working with farmers to implement more sustainable agriculture practices. These will focus on soil, water, biodiversity, carbon and energy, and animal welfare.
“It’s our mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible,” said Mariano Lozano, president and CEO of The Dannon Company. “And it’s our passion to help people enjoy the benefits of yogurt every day in a sustainable way. While this commitment is ambitious, we believe it’s necessary to continue to serve Americans using a sustainable and transparent model.”
Sandy Kepler, president, Non-GMO Global, a non-GMO compliance consulting firm, praised the moves by Del Monte, Nestlé, and Dannon.
“These are extremely smart companies,” she says. “They’re looking at their bottom line numbers and responding to consumer trends toward non-GMO. These moves make sense to them.”