The company launched the Fruit Bites range in 2017, with the key ingredient being whole pieces of dried fruit. Available in flavors like Strawberry Apple Cherry, Cherry Apple and Mango Pineapple Apple, the bars contain no added sugar and no synthetic dyes.
However, Kind claims the bars did not generate sales because they were too natural looking and not colorful enough.
Petition to ban
According to a 2010 analysis by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the consumption of dyes has ramped up more than 500% since the 1950s.
Today, more than 40% of foods marketed to children contain synthetic dyes, including 95% of fruit snacks, 86% of frozen breakfasts, 57% of fruit/pudding cups and 39% of chips and crackers.
CSPI has called for the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ban synthetic dye use entirely because some contain known carcinogens and have been associated with hyperactivity in children.
“Synthetic dyes are controversial and add no nutritional value to children's diets,” said Stephanie Csaszar, Kind’s Health & Wellness expert.
“Typically, vibrant colors positively correlate to a food's nutrition and taste quality; however, synthetic dyes counteract this thinking. The food industry uses them to their advantage to enhance visual appeal, enticing children into eating them and parents into buying them.”
Despite poor sales, Daniel Lubetzky, founder and executive chairman of Kind, rejected the idea of reformulating the Fruit Bites.
“Since day one, Kind has been committed to balancing health and taste and adhering to our Kind Promise to craft snacks with a nutritionally-dense first ingredient,” he said.
“When we launched Kind Fruit Bites, we were unwavering in our decision to not use synthetic dyes in an effort to elevate the current fruit snacks category.”
The company is now on a mission to educate parents on the widespread use of dyes and, with the assistance of agency Bankrobber, set up an installation of oversized test tubes filled with 2,000 gallons of synthetic dyes – equivalent to the amount American children consume each day – in New York City.
The display uses the eight synthetic dyes currently approved by the FDA and highlights the foods they can be found in, including breakfast cereals, microwave popcorn, sugary beverages and even ‘healthy’ foods like fruit snacks, fruit cups and yogurt.
“Our unsettling discovery of the issue at hand compelled us to act and educate parents on the use of dyes in their kids' foods so that they can make more informed eating decisions,” added Lubetzky.
Fruit Bites may have disappeared from store shelves, but diehard fans can still buy them online.