Mars, Nestle, Hersheys and candymakers are cutting half their treats to portions under 200 calories so people snack responsibly
Big Candy is taking a bite out of calories by cutting the size of its sweets.
Mars, Nestle, Wrigley, Lindt, Ferrara and Ferraro announced last week that they have committed to making half of their individually-wrapped goodies come in under 200 calories by 2022. This will involve some reformulations as well as trimming the portion sizes of some treats.
Mars Chocolate North America has already rebranded its “King Size” candy bars and sweet packs with more portionable, resealable “For Sharing” sizes of M&Ms, Skittles and Starburst, as well as “2 to Go” versions of Snickers, Twix and Milky Way. It’s also launched 100-calorie treats like the Snickers Crisper.
“It plays into what the industry calls the king size category, but we don’t want to call it that,” Tim Quinn, Mars’ vice president of trade development, said when Snickers Crispers first launched. “This size is not appropriate for one eating session, so we call them ‘4 to go.’ It helps for portion control.”
Now, Mars and Wrigley U.S. are working with fellow candymakers Nestle (Butterfinger, KitKat), Lindt (Ghirardelli, Russell Stover), Ferrara (Brachs) and Ferraro (Nutella) to pare their sweets down to more reasonable portion sizes and lower calorie counts.
Besides going full-on fun-size in some cases, the candy collective is also working with the Partnership for a Healthier America (where former FLOTUS Michelle Obama serves as an honorary chair) for the next six years to put clear calorie counts on the front of product labels, as well as to better educate consumers that candy should be seen as an occasional treat versus an everyday snack or meal replacement.
“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,” said Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America in a statement. “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.”
Hershey also announced last month that it plans to make sure half of its standard and king-sized snacks contain 200 calories or less by 2022.
The companies are coy about how much these more responsible portion sizes will cost compared to the originals. Mars told Moneyish there has been no price impact in renaming King Size candies as shareable-size ones, and that the under-200 snacks they’ve introduced have been new brands – like M&M’s Caramel, M&M’s Crispy and Snickers Crisper – rather than just reducing the size of existing products. A Hershey’s rep told Moneyish it’s “too soon to say which specific products will be impacted by the commitment or how,” but noted it will likely involve reformulating the recipes as well as adjusting candy sizes. Toblerone faced fierce backlash from hangry chocolate customers last fall for shrinking its signature triangle-topped bars while keeping them the same price.
Americans are souring on sugar after increasing research has linked the sweet stuff to obesity and diabetes. U.S. packaged confectionery sales fell 1.9% between 2011 and 2016, while savory snacks jumped 9.5%, according to Euromonitor International Data. Soda sales have also declined, with Beverage Digest reporting carbonated soft drinks slipped 0.8% in 2016 after dropping 1.2% in 2015, with Diet Pepsi (down 9.2%) and Diet Coke (down 4.3%) falling the most. So Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc. have both pledged to produce more low-calorie or no-calorie beverage options over the next several years.
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