With thousands of articles about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, hitting the wire last year, consumers quickly learned the meaning of the acronym. Whether GMOs are safe or not still is up for debate. Regardless of the answer, consumer concerns about GMOs have increased the demand for GMO-free products, resulting in the rise of GMO-free claims, the development of a non-GMO movement, and the creation of the Non-GMO Project Verified label, says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation for Innova Market Insights, the Netherlands. For example, General Mills announced the elimination of GMO ingredients from its flagship Cheerios cereal last month. Additionally, Whole Foods Market announced that all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate whether they contain GMOs by 2018.
For the beverage industry, this rising demand for GMO-free products could impact drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), in particular, explains Jackie Gray, director at Willard Bishop, Barrington, Ill.