There’s no sugar-coating the effect online social networks are having on the retail sector, according to some insiders in the candy industry.

Consumers are turning to each other to shape decisions on what they want and don’t want in a product, rather than relying on traditional mainstream news outlets to shape the conversation, reports

“The retail environment is changing given the fact that the consumer landscape is changing. Consumers are in control–there’s no doubt about that,” said John H. Downs, Jr., president and CEO of the National Confectioners’ Association in an interview with the industry news site.

Consumers active on social media channels–who often represent a younger demographic–appear to be one of the drivers behind the trend for more “natural” and “organic” choices when it comes to food and candy.

Nestle USA recently announced that it plans to remove artificial flavors and colors from its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015.

“We know that candy consumers are interested in broader food trends around fewer artificial ingredients,” said Doreen Ida, president, Nestlé USA Confections & Snacks.  “As we thought about what this means for our candy brands, our first step has been to remove artificial flavors and colors without affecting taste or increasing the price. We’re excited to be the first major U.S. candy manufacturer to make this commitment.”

Similarly, The Hershey Company said it plans to eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its milk chocolate and Kisses, and stepped forward with a commitment to make products using “ingredients that are simple and easy-to-understand.”

“As consumers, our relationship with food is changing. We spend more time talking and sharing with others about what we eat and why we like certain foods, than we spend actually eating. Food matters, and at Hershey we care deeply about it,” said John P. Bilbrey, Hershey’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We all want and deserve to know what’s in our food … we also will share more information about what goes into our products in ways that are easy to understand and access.”

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