Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Nestle SA is eliminating artificial flavors and colors from some U.S. ice-cream products as the world’s biggest food company steps up efforts to remove additives from its portfolio.

The maker of Dreyer’s ice cream will alter more than 100 products via changes that include ditching high fructose corn syrup and genetically-modified ingredients from some of them, the Vevey, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Nestle -- whose brands also include Haagen-Dazs and Skinny Cow -- will use more real fruit and fresh milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormone, and reduce the amount of sugar by 11 percent, on average, in certain items.

Nestle’s move follows similar reformulations of other products and reflects a wider trend in the food industry as consumers increasingly clamor for fare that’s less processed, with fewer ingredients. The Swiss company last year announced the removal of artificial flavors and colors in 10 chocolate candy brands in the U.S., including Butterfinger and Crunch. It did the same for products such as DiGiorno pizza, while also reducing salt.

“It looks like Nestle may be ahead of the game,” said Duncan Fox, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “The millennial consumer wants fresh, natural products. Everyone wants less sugar, fat and salt, but it isn’t easy to achieve the same taste. Nestle, as the world’s biggest food company, will have the best relationship with the food-ingredient companies and a good research budget.”

General Mills Inc., which makes Cheerios and Lucky Charms cereal, said last year it would remove artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereals. Panera Bread Co. has also said it wants to serve “clean” food in its restaurants by the end of this year, and Kraft Heinz Co. last month stripped additives, preservatives and dyes from its iconic Mac & Cheese dinners.

Nestle shares fell 0.7 percent to 73.45 francs at 2:50 p.m. in Zurich.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Boyle at mboyle20@bloomberg.net, Paul Jarvis

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