The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is an organization located in Washington D.C. that is comprised of companies specializing in converting corn into corn starch, corn oil and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In 2008 the CRA launched a series of commercials that said, “HFCS is made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, has the same calories as sugar and is okay to eat in moderation.” These commercials were an attempt by the CRA to “rebrand” high fructose corn syrup.
Rebranding is a way for companies to communicate to consumers that something about them has changed. This is done by changing a logo, slogan, and/or name and is done in an effort to reposition a product in the marketplace or to shed a negative image or reputation. The loss of a brand position can lead to lower profits and possibly the failure of the business. A prime example of rebranding is when Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria to prevent any consumer backlash of their Kraft Brand when the courts finally ruled that cigarettes are bad for you.
This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to allow another attempt by the Corn Refiners Association to rebrand ‘high fructose corn syrup’ as ‘corn sugar’. In a petition filed in 2010, the CRA asked the FDA to authorize the use of ‘corn sugar’ as an optional replacement for HFCS because apparently consumers are confused by the name and the new name would more appropriately reflect the real product. Unfortunately for the CRA, the term “corn sugar” has been used to represent ‘dextrose’ for the last 30 years. Looks like high fructose corn syrup will have to live with its nasty reputation until CRA’s next rebranding attempt. Kudos FDA.