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Healthy, Yes, But Will Consumers Miss Mars' King-Size Chocolate Bars?

Posted by Dale Buss on February 28, 2012 03:04 PM

No brand wants to be caught on the wrong side of history, shifting consumer tastes or technological obsolescence. (See: Twinkies, BetaMax.)

So Mars, Inc. is bidding to get ahead of where the entire food industry seems to be going by vowing to stop selling chocolate products with more than 250 calories in them by the end of next year. It’s part of the company's ongoing corporate citizenship effort to improve the nutritional value of its products and to sell them in a responsible way.

Mars produces seven of the world’s 20 best-selling chocolate brands, including Snickers, Mars, Dove/Galaxy, M&M's, and non-chocolatey confections including Skittles and Juicy Fruit gum. Now, by deposing king-size chocolate bars, the 540-calorie king-size Snickers bar, for instance, will be a goner after next year. 

As Mars noted on its Facebook page, the calorie-cutting efforts are part of a bigger responsible marketing commitment the company made five years ago to promote nutrition — and stop buying ad time or space if more than one quarter of the audience was estimated to be under 12 years old.

Curbing marketing of nutritionally dubious products, especially to kids, is something that food activists and regulators are trying to get all CPG brands to do.

But Mars also has attempted to leverage its R&D capabilities into coaxing true healthfulness out of chocolate, given that dark chocolate is high in antioxidants called polyphenols. Such insights, for example, are behind its brands CocoaVia and Cirku, which are beverage mix-ins.

Don’t necessarily cry for Mars that it is self-imposing a ban on king-size candy bars. In a similar way, many CPG brands have boosted margins by putting products into 100-calorie packs that bring higher profits than bulk sizes as they help consumers to exercise portion control.

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