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Mars Unveils Snack Treats and Changes in Candy Land

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

May 21, 2015

Some food marketers are indeed making changes to meet the better-for-you needs of today's consumers. At this week's Sweets & Snacks Show 2015 in Chicago, one big theme was "candy in moderation," as an essential part of a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Tackling the heath concerns related to over consumption of sugar, calories and fat, Mars Chocolate North America is expanding its product lineup with new snacks that support the "treating you right" mentality. At the show during a press event, the company launched a preportioned, lower-calorie option called Goodness Knows Snack Squares.

Available initially in Boulder, Colo., through a sampling program and later after "exceptional" feedback from testing in Dallas, Seattle and Portland, the bite-sized squares are designed to be a healthier, thoughtful treat, made with real fruit, roasted nuts and dark chocolate.

There are four squares per 1.20-oz pack (the squares are actually a bar divided into four pieces), and five wrapped packs merchandised in a carton. Each 1.20-oz. serving has 150 calories, 7 g. of total fat, 50 mg. of sodium and 11 g. of sugars, all of which are listed on the back of the carton. The product has no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Three varieties being launched are Nutty Apple (apples, almonds, peanuts and dark chocolate), Very Cranberry (almonds and dark chocolate) and Peachy Cherry (peach, cherries, almonds and dark chocolate).

The chocolately snack also contains 100 mg. of naturally occurring cocoa flavanols, which Mars says supports the healthy circulation of nutrients and oxygen to the body.

Goodness Knows will roll out nationally this August, aiming to satisfy demand for taste, convenience and choice, says Mary Myers, Mars' director of product development. "We are looking closely at consumer needs and wants, and know that confections aren't meant to be eaten every day or as a meal replacement," she says. "We're trying to offer more choices and more options in calories, flavors and product varieties."

Myers reiterated Mars' recent statements that it's endorsing proposals by the Food and Drug Administration to list added sugar on labels, as well as supporting recommendations from health authorities that advise people to limit their added sugar intake (the kind that's added to foods) to no more than 10 percent of their total calories. The company also states that it's committed long-term to providing products that play a role in the health and well-being of its consumers.

"Shoppers purchase snacks and confections for a variety of reasons, and we're seeing an increase in requests for lower caloric snack options," says Timothy LeBel, vice president of sales. "Our new Goodness Knows Snack Squares will fulfill consumers' appetite for a new snack that tastes indulgent at 150 calories per four-square serving."

Mars also unveiled several other, more indulgent treats at the Sweets &O Snacks show, such as M&M's To-Go Bottles, which are re-closable, reusable containers holding 3.5 oz. of M&M's milk chocolate and peanut chocolate candies; Combos Baked Snacks Sweet & Salty chocolate fudge pretzels; Starburst Orange Sorbet frozen novelty bars; and Milky Way Marshmallow with Caramel milk chocolate bars.