Are Haribos Vegan? (Check Out These Vegan Options)

Looking to consume Haribo sweets but don’t know if they’re vegan?

Unfortunately, most Haribo sweets are not vegan because they contain ingredients such as gelatin (pig bones, skin, and cartilage), beeswax (bees), and carmine (crushed insects). However, there are some varieties that lack such ingredients. 

In this article, I’ll cover why most Haribo sweets are not suitable for vegans, their ingredients, and find out which ones are suitable for vegans (and also vegetarians). 

What Are Haribos?

haribos

For those who do not know, Haribo was founded in 1922 by Hans Riegel in the German city of Bonn. The name came from the initials of his name and the city HA – RI – BO. In the beginning, the production was small and delivered by bicycle by the family itself.

The company is today run by Hans Riegel’s grandson, Hans Guido Riegel, with family management that is considered rather authoritarian and old-fashioned, but that seems to work very well, after all, there are more than 6,000 employees and a production of more than 80 million units per day.

Apparently, Germans are very fond of sweets and bears, and the inspiration for making the bear-shaped gum candies came from the “dancing bears”— animals trained to entertain the masses in public squares in medieval times, which is a rather non-vegan start to a brand. 

Haribo was also the company that created the first gummy candy in the form of little gummy bears called Gummibärchen (gummy bears in German), however, the company now has an array of gummy sweets, and while most of them are made with animal ingredients, there are a few vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. 

Why Are Most Haribo Sweets Not Vegan?

Unfortunately, there are several ingredients used by the Haribo brand that might make them non-vegan, so you should definitely keep an eye out for the following ingredients.

Gelatin

pigs

Gelatin is one of the main ingredients used in chewy candies, and most Haribo sweets have it, as well as a wide array of different products such as shampoos and face masks. 

Gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling animal bones, skins, ligaments, and tendons, and whilst there are alternatives such as pectin, agar-agar, and carrageen, gelatin is still the most widely used. 

Beeswax

beeswax

Beeswax is produced by bees to create a structure that allows them to store honey and nurture young bees. A process that happens during honey production. 

Unfortunately, we know that the conventional honey industry isn’t ethical, and therefore some harsh methods are used to ramp up honey production.

Methods like removing the wings of queen bees to prevent worker bees from leaving the colony are one of the few methods employed by some industrial bee farmers. While this seems more pertinent to honey, the fact that beeswax is crucial to the process doesn’t change the gravity of the problem. 

In any case, because beeswax is produced by bees, it can’t be deemed as a vegan ingredient. 

Carmine

cochineal

Carmine is a red pigment obtained from cochineal, which is a type of scale insect closely related to the aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies. 

Cochineal bugs have flat, oval-shaped bodies about the size of a grain of rice and are native to tropical and subtropical South America, though they also exist in North America.

The carmine dye/pigment is produced from the acid that the female cochineal naturally secretes to deter predators, and up to 20% of this insect’s body weight is made up of carminic acid. 

To extract this dye, cochineal insects are harvested, dried out, and ground up to produce the dark red color in powder form. Most cochineal insects are harvested in the wild, but there are also locations where they are farmed, which involves either cultivating cactus plants already infested with insects, or adding insects by hand to wild cactus pads. 

The carminic acid extracted from the cochineal insect is boiled, filtered, and mixed with basic aluminum salts to produce the colorant, which must also be pasteurized or treated to eradicate salmonella microorganisms. 

Unfortunately, because carmine is derived from an insect that is killed, vegans choose to avoid carmine. 

Palm Fat (vegan but controversial)

palm fat

Palm oil is a plant-based ingredient.

However, conventional palm oil farming is responsible for the destruction of rainforests and natural habitats. As a result, animal species end up losing their homes and die as they’re unable to adapt.

Indonesia and Malaysia account for 85% of the world’s palm oil production. It’s also in those two countries where a population of orangutangs is being pushed to extinction.

According to research available on Cell, between 1999 and 2015, palm oil production has led to the demise of 100,000 orangutans.

If nothing is done to curb the demand for palm oil, we could end up eradicating the rainforests in those two countries, and we’ll also bring to extinction unique species such as the Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, the Sumatran tigers, the Bornean Pygmy elephants, the Sumatran rhinoceros, and the Malayan sun bears.

Palm oil isn’t an ingredient that most vegans avoid. The same goes for sugar, and perhaps any other ingredient that is deemed “questionable”. What I want to say is that eating or avoiding these ingredients comes down to each individual’s own definition of veganism.

Even though that ingredient might be destructive for both the environment and biodiversity, it’s still a plant-based ingredient, and as a vegan, it’s up to your whether you consume it or not. 

Haribo, however, is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which claims to be the arbiter on sustainable palm oil production and vouches for members (or corporations) within their circle.

Organizations like Greenpeace tend to disagree, though, by claiming the following:

“Many consumer companies think they are buying sustainable palm oil when they buy from the RSPO, but as we have shown, the RSPO is actually certifying forest destruction. This means that the international household brands, that we all use and love, that are solely relying on the RSPO, are still at risk that the palm oil they use is tainted with deforestation. Greenpeace is asking companies like Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsi Co, and Johnson & Johnson, to do more to truly guarantee that the palm oil in their products is not contributing to deforestation, habitat loss for endangered wildlife and climate change.”

Therefore, it’s hard to determine whether sustainable palm oil is really sustainable, not to mention that RSPO members account for around 40% of global palm oil production. 

Sugar (vegan but controversial)

cattle bones

Contrary to what most people think, there’s a chance most sugar sold in the United States may be unsuitable for vegans. In some countries (namely the United States), bone char is commonly used to filter and bleach sugar, giving it its predominantly white, pristine color.

Sadly, bone char is obtained by heating the bones of cattle at high temperatures, until they eventually turn into a black powder. It’s also worth mentioning this isn’t the case for every single company. In some instances, companies use granular activated charcoal to achieve the same result.

It’s also worth mentioning that bone char is only used for sugar derived from sugar cane. Another commonly used source of sugar is beet sugar which doesn’t rely on bone char to crystalize.

However, it all comes down to the company’s modus operandi, and which suppliers they’re investing in. In many cases, companies use multiple suppliers, so you might have 2 suppliers that use bone char, and other 3 suppliers that don’t. For instance, that’s how Oreos operates, and they’re very candid about it.

My recommendation would be for you to contact the company or manufacturer to figure out the truth. If you want an exact answer, that is probably the only way of getting it.

This being said, I’d say some countries are more suspicious than others. For instance, some sources point out that bone char is not used in some European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand. So, depending on where the product is manufactured, you could more easily conclude.

Haribo does have factories in the United States, so it’s quite possible that they use bone char. 

Potential Cross-Contamination

Some vegans are particularly cautious about the potential for cross-contamination, so they will avoid any products that “may contain” animal ingredients. 

Well, unfortunately, even the vegan-friendly Haribo products “may contain” animal ingredients because they’re all manufactured in the same facility, where they handle a bunch of different ingredients, including gelatin and dairy. 

If you’re allergic to dairy or gluten, this is bad news because you won’t be able to consume their products as it could be dangerous for your health. 

Which Haribo Sweets Are Vegan & Vegetarian?

To give you a better idea of what products you can consume, I’ve gone ahead and created a table with every Haribo sweet, its ingredients, and its status.

Haribo Sweet Vegan? Vegetarian? Animal Ingredients:
Gold-Bears No No Gelatin, beeswax
Sour Gold-Bears No No Gelatin
Happy Cola Bottles No No Gelatin, beeswax
Happy Cola Zing No No Gelatin
Pico-Balla No No Gelatin, beeswax
Happy Cherries No No Gelatin, beeswax
Tropifrutti No No Gelatin, beeswax
Happy Peaches No No Gelatin
Mega-Roulette No No Gelatin, beeswax
Starmix No No Gelatin, beeswax
Worms No No Gelatin, beeswax
Piratos No Yes Beeswax
Almdudler No No Gelatin, beeswax
Bunte Tute No Yes Beeswax
Dinosaurs No No Gelatin, beeswax
Frogs No No Gelatin, beeswax
Berries No Yes Beeswax
Sour S’ghetti Yes Yes None
Sour Smurfs No No Gelatin
Smurfs No No Gelatin, beeswax
Rainbow Spaghetti Yes Yes None
Rainbow Strips Zing Yes Yes None
Rainbow Twists Yes No Beeswax
Sour Rainbow Twists Yes Yes None
Mini Rainbow Frogs No No Gelatin, beeswax
Schnecken No Yes Beeswax
Rattlesnakes No No Gelatin, beeswax
Alphabet Letters No No Gelatin, beeswax
Fizzy Cola No No Gelatin
Fruit Salad No No Gelatin
Color-Rado No No Gelatin, milk
Clown Fish No No Gelatin, beeswax
Twin Snakes No No Gelatin, beeswax
Baerchen-Paerchen No No Gelatin, beeswax
Peaches No No Gelatin
Saure Pommes No No Gelatin
Ginger-Lemon No No Gelatin
Grapefruit No No Gelatin
Rotella No Yes Beeswax
Soft Jelly Bear Yes Yes None
Sour Sparks No Yes Beeswax
Tangfastics No No Gelatin
Tangfastics Stixx No No Gelatin
Yellow Bellies No No Gelatin, beeswax

According to the table above, the only vegan Haribo sweets are Sour S’ghetti, Rainbow Spaghetti, Rainbow Strips Zing, Sour Rainbow Twists, and Soft Jelly Bears. 

Other sweets such as the Sour Spark, Rotella, Schnecken, Rainbow Twists, Berries, Bunte Tute, and Piratos are suitable for vegetarians. 

Vegan Haribo Alternatives

If you don’t want to buy any Haribo sweets due to their heavy use of animal ingredients, there are a large number of vegan chewy sweets from other brands.

Whilst I already have an article covering gelatin-free vegan gummies, here are the ones I would say are an interesting alternative to Haribo sweets:

Candy Kittens

Candy Kittens is a brand of chewy sweets that started in 2012. It was initially not vegan, but it eventually evolved into becoming 100% vegan. Their sweets come in a variety of fruity flavors, namely raspberry & guava, blood orange & pomegranate, orchard apple & dragon fruit, wild strawberry, and more. 

Here are some of the ingredients that Candy Kittens use in their products:

Very Cherry Ingredients: Sugar; Glucose Syrup, Modified Starch, 10% Sour Cherry Juice From Concentrate; Dextrose; 2% Elderberry Juice From Concerntrate, Acids (Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid), Hydrolysed Pea Protein, Acidity Regulators: Sodium Malates And Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavoring, And Potato Protein.

Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks

Annie’s fruit snacks are certified organic and made with real fruits. You won’t find any artificial ingredients, synthetic colors, or even a hint of high-fructose corn syrup.

The ingredients they contain are the following:

Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Syrup Solids, Organic Pear Juice Concentrate, Water, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Organic Color (Organic Black Carrot, Organic Black Currant Extracts), Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, And Organic Carnauba Wax

YumEarth Organic Fruit Snacks

Yum Earth is a brand that is known for creating more sustainable, vegan-friendly, and allergy-free alternatives to popular candies. 

They include plenty of organic ingredients in their products. For example, their fruit snacks contain organic cane sugar and organic sunflower oil, so they’re a much more vegan-friendly alternative. 

The ingredients in YumEarth’s organic fruit snacks are the following:

Organic Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Organic Color From Concentrate (Apple, Carrot, Pumpkin, BlackCurrant), Organic Sunflower Oil, And Organic Carnauba Wax.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, most Haribo sweets contain gelatin and beeswax, both ingredients derived from animals— namely pigs and bees.

With that being said, you’re able to find Haribo sweets without gelatin and beeswax, for instance, Sour S’ghetti, Rainbow Spaghetti, Rainbow Strips Zing, Sour Rainbow Twists, and Soft Jelly Bears are vegan-friendly.

Unlike brands such as Candy Kittens or YumEarth, Haribo’s vegan products are not certified vegan, which suggests there is a probability for cross-contamination, given that all products are manufactured in the same facilities.

If you’re someone that doesn’t have an issue with cross-contamination (like most vegans are), I’d say that Haribo’s vegan products are good to go. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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