Fortune

Try this simple test. Say the following out loud: Artificial colors and flavors. Pesticides. Preservatives. High-fructose corn syrup. Growth hormones. Antibiotics. Gluten. Genetically modified organisms.

If any one of these terms raised a hair on the back of your neck, left a sour taste in your mouth, or made your lips purse with disdain, you are part of Big Food’s multibillion-dollar problem. In fact, you may even belong to a growing consumer class that has some of the world’s biggest and best-known companies scrambling to change their businesses.

Lest you think this is hyperbole, consider the commentary in February at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, the packaged-goods industry’s premier annual gathering.

“We look at our business and say, ‘How can we remake ourselves?’ ” said Richard Smucker, CEO of his family’s namesake jelly giant [fortune-stock symbol=”SJM”]. A second exec—this one at ConAgra [fortune-stock symbol=”CAG”], which owns…

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