How do you turn a retail failure into a branded crusade?
For Kind, the answer is in the discontinuation of its Kind Fruit Bites, which the company blames on a consumer preference for artificially colored gummy-like treats. “After just two years in the market,” Kind announced in a statement, “the company has decided to remove the product from shelves as kids regretfully prefer to eat fruit snacks that resembled candy gems versus the dried, whole fruit that Kind uses in its products.”
Rather than just pulling the unpopular product off shelves and moving on to the next snack idea, Kind opted to launch a campaign against synthetic dyes in packaged foods—especially in those targeted at children.
“Synthetic dyes are controversial and add no nutritional value to children’s diets,” says Stephanie Csaszar, a registered dietician who serves as Kind’s in-house health and wellness expert. “Typically, vibrant colors positively correlate to a food’s nutrition and taste quality; however, synthetic dyes counteract this thinking. The food industry uses them to their advantage to enhance visual appeal, enticing children into eating them and parents into buying them.”
To highlight the 2,000 estimated gallons of artificial food dye consumed daily by U.S. children (per a 2014 analysis published in Clinical Pediatrics), Kind poured an equal amount of coloring into giant test tubes and put them on display this week in New York’s Herald Square.
The brand says that such dyes are now used in 95% of fruit snacks, 86% of frozen breakfasts, 57% of fruit/pudding cups, and 39% of chips and crackers.
While Kind Bars have proven consistently popular for the brand, its extension into fruit snacks did not catch on with consumers. Kind says its products, which are still available for order online via the brand’s site, were the only fruit snacks on the market that didn’t use artificial dyes.
“Since Day 1, Kind has been committed to balancing health and taste and adhering to our Kind Promise to craft snacks with a nutritionally dense first ingredient,” says founder and executive chairman Daniel Lubetzky in a statement. “When we launched Kind Fruit Bites, we were unwavering in our decision to not use synthetic dyes in an effort to elevate the current fruit snacks category. Our unsettling discovery of the issue at hand compelled us to act and educate parents on the use of dyes in their kids’ foods so that they can make more informed eating decisions.”