Mars, Nestle and other candy giants commit to cut calories in half of products by 2022

Dive Brief:

  • Candy giants Mars, Nestle, Lindt, Ferrera Candy and Ferrero have all committed to making 50% of their individually wrapped products 200 calories or less by 2022, and will label calories on the front of product packaging, according to Fortune. The announcement was made jointly with Partnership For a Healthier America. 
  • Mars has already invested $200 million in R&D and manufacturing as part of the initiative, and now has 100-calorie versions of Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Skittles and Starburst candies. 
  • The group of companies, which comprise about half of the confectionery sector, also said they would work to educate consumers on candy's role as a treat, rather than a snack or meal replacement. 

Dive Insight:

Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America, told Fortune that this commitment to sugar reduction was the first-ever announcement the candy industry has collectively made on health and wellness. 

It's wise move for the confection segment, as Mintel's 2017 Consumer Trend report listed "backlash against sugar" at the top of its list. 

Consumer distrust of sugar hasn't soured appetites for candy, however. The category is still seeing sweet sales — approximately 5,000 new candy items were introduced in 2016 — ringing up to nearly an additional $1.5 billion. 

Still, consumer demand for low-sugar candy or candy sweetened with natural alternatives like stevia and monkfruit is being taken seriously. A survey by NPR of 102 CPG companies found 180,000 products were reformulated last year — double the amount in 2015. 

By committing to making half of their individually wrapped products 200 calories or less by 2022 and labeling calories on the front of packaging, Mars, Nestle, Lindt, Ferrera Candy, and Ferrero are showing their customers that they care about their nutrition and want to help people make healthier choices. It will be interesting to see if other major candy companies maker similar commitments, or if these five producers undergo additional initiatives. 

Nestle, for example, has developed a way to restructure the sugar molecule so that it can use up to 40% less sugar in its products without cutting sweetness. This technology could revolutionize the candy industry if adopted by other companies, and Nestle is planning to roll out products using this faster-dissolving sugar in 2018

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Ingredients Corporate Marketing
Top image credit: Mars, Inc.