Kind makes a colorful exit from grocers' fruit-snack shelves
Plenty of marketers discreetly pull products when they don’t sell well. Kind is taking the opposite approach as it stops selling its underperforming Kind Fruit Bites in stores: It’s calling out competitors.
Other brands sell colorful, chewy fruit snacks that often contain corn syrup and sugar. “It’s basically a candy category posing as a healthy snack category,” Kind CEO Daniel Lubetzky says.
Rather than quietly conceding defeat in a category Kind had hoped to disrupt, it is drawing attention to the use of synthetic dyes and sugar by the competitors it couldn’t catch up to, as well as to the broader use of dyes in food.
Kind, which doesn’t use dyes in its products, set up giant test tubes filled with synthetic dyes in New York’s Herald Square Tuesday. The 2,000 gallons of colorful liquid on display are meant to signify roughly the amount of dye children in the U.S. consume each day, according to data cited by the company. The campaign goes beyond fruit snacks to highlight that dyes are used in products such as apple sauce, microwave popcorn and yogurt.
The company is handing out its Kind Whole Fruit bars, which used to be called Pressed by Kind, and the Fruit Bites it’s eliminating from stores but will continue to sell on its own website.
According to data cited by Lubetzky, 95 percent of fruit snacks contain synthetic dyes, and 98 percent of fruit snacks lead with sugar as the first ingredient. When Kind Fruit Bites began shipping to retailers back in May 2017, the company focused on the dried fruit product's lack of added sugar as a selling point. Now, though, Kind has come to realize that some of what made the product different also makes it a tough sell.
Kind Fruit Bites, Lubetzky admits, “might not be the tastiest to palates used to so much sugar.” The product’s texture was also different from other brands.
The company says Fruit Bites were among its smallest lines but declined to share specific sales data.
Overall, U.S. sales of fruit snacks rose more than 2 percent to nearly $2.38 billion in 2018, according to data from Euromonitor International. Welch’s leads the pack with 13.2 percent of the market, followed by Betty Crocker and Sun-Maid, according to Euromonitor. Kind Fruit Bites were not among the top brands and therefore sales data wasn’t available from the market research firm.
Kind’s push comes days after California health officials held a two-day symposium in Sacramento on “the potential neurobehavioral effects in children of synthetic food dyes.” Kind says it was not aware of the meeting sponsored by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment when it planned the Herald Square event.