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Is Hershey's Promise to Lower Calories a Marketing Ploy?

by
author image Hillary Eaton
Hillary Eaton is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in VICE, Refinery29, LA Weekly and Complex. She loves writing about food, entertainment, travel and style.
Is Hershey's Promise to Lower Calories a Marketing Ploy?
You’re going to have to wait until 2022 for Hershey's "low calorie" offerings. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Hershey’s made a recent announcement that’s got people talking. The beloved chocolate company is working toward making 50 percent of its standard and king-size confections 200 calories or less. While that’s seemingly good news for health-conscious chocolate lovers, consumers are questioning if this is a real change worthy of attention or just an ingenious marketing scheme.

In a press release, Hershey’s outlined its plan to make its products healthier by shaving calories down to 200, putting calorie information on the front of the bar and releasing new packaging that makes it easier to save part of a bar for later. While anything that helps consumers make healthier choices is a good thing, we can’t help but look at what these changes really mean for consumers.

News outlets like Yahoo and Fortune have dubbed Hershey’s decision to cut down on calories “a big pledge” and “a major change” — but it’s important to consider that the standard Hershey chocolate bar already comes it at 210 calories. Does a 10-calorie difference really equate to a major change? What’s more, 30 percent of Hershey products already meet their new 200-calorie-or-less requirement.

Not only is the calorie adjustment less significant than implied by the announcement, but the means by which the company is cutting the calories is also largely unimpressive. According to the press release, Hershey’s is essentially just making the bars smaller, not making the recipe any healthier: “Hershey expects that the 200-calorie commitment will be achieved through a combination of reformulation, innovative new products and adjusting the size of certain items in the portfolio.”

And the kicker? You’re going to have to wait until 2022 for Hershey’s “low calorie” offerings to even be a thing.

Fortune points out a growing trend: American consumers are demanding healthier food choices, and big food companies are responding by doing everything in their power to make their products appear healthier. In an effort to avoid declining sales, companies like McDonald’s, KFC, Nestle and now Hershey’s are looking for ways to rebrand themselves and their offerings. While some companies are doing this by offering “snack-size” packages, others are touting antibiotic-free meat and products that contain fewer calories.

The truth of the matter is that many big food companies aren’t making these seemingly healthy changes out of the goodness of their hearts, they’re doing it to keep sales from slipping. As more brands continue to adapt or die, it will be your responsibility as a consumer to decipher what’s a real commitment to change and what’s a wisely crafted attempt at jumping on the health-conscious bandwagon.

Stay woke, people!

What Do YOU Think?

Do you think the change that Hershey’s is making is significant? How do you tell what’s healthy and what’s not? Let us know in the comments!

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