Mars Food to warn consumers that some of its products should only be eaten ‘Occasionally’
Mars Food is to offer consumers advice on how regularly they should eat its products, warning that some lines that are higher in fat, sugar and salt should only be eaten “occasionally”.
The ground-breaking move by the group that owns brands such as Uncle Ben’s, Masterfoods and Dolmio is part its new global ‘Health and Wellbeing Ambition’ plan. This is aimed at creating and promoting healthier food choices and to encourage consumers to cook and share healthier meals with others.
The Health and Wellbeing Ambition will roll-out over the next five years and will focus on five main areas: improving nutritional content; providing consumers with more nutrition information to help them make more balanced choices; inspiring consumers to cook and eat healthy meals with friends and family; exploring new formats and opportunities to offer products in more places at affordable prices; and providing Mars Food Associates opportunities to improve wellbeing through nutrition education, cooking facilities, and healthier food options.
“We’re incredibly proud and excited to share our new five year Health and Wellbeing Ambition,” said Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, Drinks, and Multisales. “This Ambition advances our Purpose of creating Better Food Today and A Better World Tomorrow.”
The initiative will see Mars Food help consumers differentiate and choose between “everyday” and “occasional” options from its product range. To group said that to maintain the authentic nature of a recipe, some of its products are higher in salt, added sugar or fat. Mars Food said that these products are not intended to be eaten daily and it will provide guidance to consumers on-pack and on its website regarding how often these meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet.
The Mars Food website will be updated within the next few months with a list of “occasional” products – those to be enjoyed once per week – and a list of “everyday” products – including those to be reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar, or fat.
In addition, Mars Food plans to improve its nutritional product composition through the reduction of added sugar and sodium and the addition of vegetables and whole grains across its global product portfolio.
This builds upon the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria, which was developed based on recommendations from public health authorities such as the World Health Organization. To align the global product portfolio with this criteria, Mars Food will reduce sodium by an average of 20% by 2021 and reduce added sugar in a limited number of sauces and light meals by 2018. Additionally, Mars Food will significantly expand multi-grain options so that half of all rice products include whole grains and/or legumes. Mars Food said will also ensure all tomato-based jar products include a minimum of one serving of vegetables.
“The food industry has already made great strides in reducing sodium, but we have more work to do to help consumers reduce sodium intake,” said Dawson. “We support release of the U.S. FDA’s draft sodium reduction guidance, because we believe it’s important to begin a stakeholder dialogue about the role industry can play in this critical part of consumers’ diets.”
She added: “Cooking and eating healthy meals at home is central to health and wellbeing, and we believe our brands should inspire our consumers to come together over a healthy meal.”