strat investigates

7 Gelatin-Free Gummies to Eat If You’re Looking for Ethical Gummy Bears

Photo: Anna & Tomasz Skoczen/Getty Images

Haribo gummy bears are cheerful and delicious and probably made with ingredients harvested by slave labor. That’s according to a German documentary, aired earlier this week, that reported that Haribo gummies are made with carnauba wax harvested by underpaid, exploited plantation workers in Brazil, many of whom are underage, and gelatin that comes from mistreated pigs. This news has caused many gummy-bear enthusiasts to start searching for substitutes for Haribo gummies — including our colleagues over at Select All who are, according to associate editor Madison Malone Kircher, “effectively powered by gummies.” So when Malone Kircher asked the Strategist on Twitter if we could find some ethical gummy bears that could replace Haribo gummies, we were happy to oblige.

An important note here. Since the two ingredients put into question by the documentary were carnauba wax and gelatin, we found gummies that were free of those ingredients, so until pectin or corn syrup turns out to be a “milkshake duck,” we can assume that the gummies below are okay. And though a couple of people have recommended Albanese gummy bears, which are a great dupe for Haribo’s, they’re not gelatin-free, so not on this list. It should also be said that gummies are not healthier than conventional gummy bears. But this list of carnauba wax– and gelatin-free gummies should be a good start for those looking to find ethical substitutes for Haribo gummies.

These gummy bears from Surf Sweets are made with organic fruit juice, organic cane sugar instead of corn syrup, and pectin, a plant starch that makes fruits sticky. Just be careful to get the organic fruity bears from Surf Sweets; their regular Gummy Bears have both gelatin and carnauba wax.

If you want a gummy that’ll make your mouth pucker, try Surf Sweets Sour Berry Bears, which are also made with organic cane sugar and fruit juices.

Eating gummies free of gelatin and carnauba wax doesn’t mean you can only eat organic candy. For instance, Sour Patch Kids are blissfully, accidentally vegan, made without gelatin or carnauba wax.

If you’re not wedded to the bear shape of gummies, Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks are a good vegan, carnauba wax–free option. They’re also readily available at many grocery stores, unlike some of the other organic gummies listed.

This one-pound bag of organic, vegan gummy bears from is a good bulk option. These gummies come in five flavors — cherry, strawberry, lemon, grape, orange, and grapefruit — and they’re also available in 5- or 20-pound bag options.

Finding ethical substitutes for some of Haribo’s non-bear-shaped candies is a little trickier, but these vegan peach rings from are a good-enough stand-in for the Gummi Peaches.

Haribo’s Gummi Berries are also a hard one to exactly replace, but these berry-flavored square gummies from Nothing But the Fruit at least have a similar flavor profile.

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Gelatin-Free Gummies to Eat If You Want Ethical Gummy Bears