Mars Food health campaign to label occasional foods and improve ingredients

Posted on 26 Apr 2016 by Tim Brown

Mars Food has announced a new global health programme which aims to promote healthier food choices and to encourage consumers to cook and share healthier meals.

The Mars Food 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
  • providing Mars Food Associates opportunities to improve wellbeing through nutrition education, cooking facilities, and healthier food options

The company hopes its initiative will encourage families to share one billion more healthy meals at dinner tables around the world.

Following the announcement, much of the media focus generated by the initiative focussed on the fact that Mars Food intends label its own products as ‘everyday’ or ‘occasional’ to help consumers make healthier and more informed diet choices.

In a statement, Mars Food said: “To maintain the authentic nature of the recipe, some Mars Food products are higher in salt, added sugar or fat. As these products are not intended to be eaten daily, Mars Food will provide guidance to consumers on-pack and on its website regarding how often these meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet.”

“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. As a busy mum myself, I know how tricky it can be to find healthy meals which everyone in the family will enjoy, and of course, they often need to be quick and easy to prepare.”

It is not clear at present which foods in the Mars Food range, which includes brands such as Dolmio, Uncle Ben’s and of course Mars, will fall into the ‘occasional’ category.

However, in a comment supplied via its global PR agency APCO Worldwide to PR Week, Mars said it expected only 5% its global product portfolio would receive the ‘occasional’ label.

Mars Food health programme to improve ingredients

In addition, Mars Food said it plans to improve the nutritional composition of its products 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 leading 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 percent by 2021 and reduce added sugar in a limited number of sauces and light meals by 2018.

Mars Food plans to also expand multi-grain options so that half of all rice products include whole grains and/or legumes and 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.”