As a leading provider of food for people and pets, we want to make sure the products we offer, and the ingredients they contain, fit into a balanced diet. We are continuously investigating ways to improve the nutritional content of our products without compromising taste, convenience, quality or affordability.
Reformulating chocolate products
Rising levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes are causing concern globally, and we are using various strategies to continuously improve our products. These include using less of some ingredients, and eliminating others altogether.
For example, trans fats have been recognized by scientists as raising LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), which can increase the risk of heart disease. We reformulated all Mars Chocolate products globally, removing all trans fat apart from those that are naturally occurring or that are made during processing. Through this we have removed 97 percent of trans fats between 2002 and 2010. Some saturated fats have also been shown to raise LDL. Around the world we are finding ways to reduce these fats. For example, in 2010 we removed at least 15 percent of saturated fats from MARS®, SNICKERS®, MILKY WAY® and TOPIC® bars in the U.K. and major European markets. These products now have 35 to 45 percent less saturated fat per 100 grams than the average of the top 25 chocolate brands in each market.
In North America, we reduced saturated fat in TWIX® bars by 18 percent per serving in 2011. Saturated fats in MARS® bars in Australia have decreased by 22 percent, from 5.7g to 4.4g per 53g bar. We also lowered saturated fat in MILKY WAY® bars by 19 percent per 25g bar. All these reductions resulted from a combination of reformulation and a change in portion size.
”Mars takes the debate on the issue of nutrition seriously and is committed to a healthy lifestyle. With its 'promise of action' to reduce the salt content in different Mars Food products, Mars Switzerland is making a contribution to the promotion of health in Switzerland in line with the aims of actionsanté.”
Alberto Marcacci,Leiter Büro actionsanté,
Bundesamt für Gesundheit / Federal Office of Public Health
We continue to introduce more options so people can choose the right Mars products for their lifestyles. For example, we have replaced some single large chocolate bars with multiple smaller bars in one package to make it easier for consumers to share or enjoy on more than one occasion. Similarly, in the U.S. Mars Chocolate has introduced "2toGo" bars: two pieces of chocolate packaged in a special type of memory wrap that can be twisted closed, making it easier to save a portion for later.
The Mars Food portfolio offers products that are nutritious, healthy and tasty, and we are working to make them even more so. High dietary sodium levels have been linked with high blood pressure in some populations, so we are reformulating our recipes to reduce sodium levels without losing flavor.
Our target is to reduce sodium levels in Mars Food products globally by an average of 25 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline (excluding products that already meet regionally agreed sodium level targets). The best example of progress globally is a sodium level reduction of between 25 and 31 percent in UNCLE BEN’S® flavored Ready to Heat products.
This success is the result of our partnerships with government initiatives, such as voluntary reduction commitments in different regions. Our efforts began in the U.K., which has the most stringent salt reduction standards, and we are following the country’s leadership in this area. We have committed to reduce the sodium content of our products across the European Union (EU), based on the criteria set out by the U.K. Food Standards Agency/Department of Health (FSA/DoH). Today, more than 90 percent of our U.K. Food portfolio (and 94 percent of pasta sauces) meets the FSA 2012 targets. In the U.S. we joined forces with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) in 2010, and have already achieved a 15 percent sodium reduction in our flavored rice product portfolio (from 797 mg to 680 mg per cup of cooked rice).
“For the last four years Mars Food Australia has been working with the Heart Foundation Tick Program to renovate and innovate their products to meet Tick nutrition standards, as well as providing input into the development of criteria for several different product categories. They are strongly supporting our commitment to offer healthier choices to consumers.”
Sarah McMillan,Retail Account Manager - Heart Foundation Tick,
The U.K. and U.S. are Mars Food’s largest markets and represent more than half of overall sales, so by targeting salt reduction in these regions we can have a major impact. And while our efforts began in these countries, we have voluntarily committed to reducing salt in our products globally (excluding products that already meet regionally agreed sodium level targets). All new products will be developed to meet our salt targets.
Mars Food in Australia has made great progress at reducing salt across its portfolio. It has reformulated a number of products to meet the National Heart Foundation’s Tick of Approval standard, and has committed to reduce the sodium content of its pasta sauces, Indian-style sauces and other sauces that exceed 420 milligrams per 100 grams by 15 percent by the end of 2014.
Mars Food is finding ways to make a difference in family diets by making our products even more nutritious and natural, and by using fewer, simpler and more wholesome ingredients. For example, our DOLMIO® pasta sauces now have lower salt, less water and no starch.
Our 2007 renovation of European DOLMIO® Bolognese Pasta Sauces boosted tomato content to the equivalent of 10 whole tomatoes in every jar and shifted to ingredients that can be found in the average kitchen cupboard. A serving of DOLMIO® Bolognese Pasta Sauce provides one of the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. In 2011, we further improved the recipe to use only natural ingredients.
We are also looking at ways to provide simple, tasty meals to people with limited time to cook. Examples include our new UNCLE BEN'S® RICETIME™ and DOLMIO® PASTAVITA™ in the U.K. These provide a delicious meal in two pots, made with simple, quality ingredients that are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. These delicious, pre-prepared meals do not need to be refrigerated and offer a quick, easy and healthy individual meal.