WASHINGTON — Mars Chocolate North America and Wrigley U.S. have stepped up efforts to offer consumers more product choices and transparency to promote healthier snacking.
In what Mars and Wrigley called “the confectionery industry’s first and most significant consumer health and well-being standards and commitments,” the companies have earmarked more than $200 million in a range of initiatives to lower portion sizes and calorie counts in their candy and snacks as well as improve front-of-pack calorie labeling and provide education on taking a more balanced approach to eating snacks.
Mars and Wrigley — both part of Mars Inc. — said the effort is being made in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and other industry players, such as Nestle, Lindt, Ferrara Candy and Ferrero.
Plans call for half of all Mars Chocolate and Wrigley individually wrapped products to be 200 calories or less by 2022. The companies said this effort is already under way, as shown by the recent launches of M&M’s Caramel, Maltesers, M&M’s Crispy and Snickers Crisper, all of which have less than 200 calories, and the new 100-calorie versions of Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Dove, 3Musketeers, Skittles and Starburst.
Wrigley added that its current gum and mint products provide “treat-like experiences” with five to 25 calories, rounding out the calorie-smart choices within the confection category.
Continued progress on Mars and Wrigley’s commitment will be reported to PHA and shared publicly via independent, third-party verification on PHA’s Progress Report site.
Across the confection industry, Mars and Wrigley also will partner to replace “King Size” with “Sharing Size” offerings to give consumers more portion options. Mars noted that it was the first to replace “King Size” products with “Sharing” or “For Sharing” choices, and the company plans to work with its peers to promote sharing language on packs and roll out more portionable options introduced from Mars.
To that end, Mars and Wrigley have introducted stand-up, resealable pouches of M&M’s, Skittles and Starburst products that promote sharing, as well as “2 to Go” varieties of Snickers, Twix, Milky Way and 3Musketeers that allow consumers to easily share and twist the seal for snacking later on.
The companies, too, said they will offer education focusing on “candy as a treat, not an everyday snack or meal replacement.” In partnership with the National Confectioners Association, the industry will share easy-to-use information for consumers to better understand the role that confections can play in a balanced lifestyle, reinforcing that chocolate and confections are an occasional treat.
“Over the past decade, we have been laser-focused on continuously pushing ourselves and our peers to offer consumers more choice and transparency while keeping the same great tastes and experiences our fans love,” stated Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America. “By joining forces with PHA and other leading confectionery manufacturers to create even deeper commitments, we are taking an important step forward to transform the entire industry so we can evolve to meet and exceed the demands of today’s consumers.”
Last year, Mars Inc.’s Mars Food unit — maker of the Uncle Ben’s and Seeds of Change brands — announced its Health & Wellbeing Ambition, whichais to deliver 1 billion more healthy meals shared on dinner tables worldwide. To that goal, Mars Food is providing more healthful meal options, promoting healthy cooking and eating together, and helping the company’s associates practice healthier habits. Through a six-year partnership, PHA will validate Mars Food’s progress toward these commitments in the United States.
“We began our relationship with Mars Food through Uncle Ben’s and Seeds of Change to increase healthier choices for families,” commented Larry Soler, president and chief executive officer of the Partnership for a Healthier America. “Today’s announcement extends to Mars Chocolate and Wrigley to help reduce calories and increase transparency, which will help all Americans have more choices.”
Mars and Wrigley added that their health and wellness achievements in recent years include being the first to implement a global marketing code, eliminating marketing to children under 12 (2007); first chewing gum to be awarded the American Dental Seal of Acceptance (2007); first to prominently display calories on front of all chocolate and confections packaging (2008); first to eliminate “King Size” offerings and replace with “Sharing” options (2012); first to deliver 100% of single-serve products less than 250 calories per pack (2014); first manufacturer to endorse the World Health Organization’s guidance to limit sugar intake to 10% added sugar and support labeling in the U.S. (2015); and first to commit to remove artificial colors from all food and confectionery products globally (2016).