Mars Inc. announced earlier this week its commitment to guide product reformulation, pledging to reduce sodium in its products by an additional 20 percent over the next five years and cut added sugar in a limited number of products by 2018. Its Global Health and Wellbeing Ambition program is expected to cost at least $20 million.
Mars says it will label products that contain high levels of sugar, salt, or fat as "occasional" foods as opposed to "everyday" foods, and will focus on five main areas: improve nutritional content; provide more nutrition information; inspire consumers to cook and eat healthy meals; explore new formats and opportunities to offer products in more places at affordable prices; and offer Mars Food associates opportunities to improve well being through nutrition education, cooking facilities, and healthier food options.
Sodium reduction is an industry-wide goal today. In its recently released 2016 Global Responsibility Report, General Mills reiterated its progress on sodium reduction, having met or exceeded its 20-percent reduction goal in seven of 10 categories by 2015.
"The food industry has already made great strides in reducing sodium, but we have more work to do to help consumers reduce sodium intake," says Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars food, drinks, and multisales. "We support release of the FDA’s draft sodium reduction guidance, because we believe it’s important to begin a stakeholder dialogue about the role industry can play in this critical part of consumers’ diets."
In addition, Mars Food says it will also add vegetables and whole grains across its global product portfolio, building on its Food Nutrition Criteria, developed based on recommendations from leading public health authorities such as the World Health Organization. To align the global product portfolio with this criteria, Additionally, the company says it will "significantly expand multi-grain options so that half of all rice products include whole grains and/or legumes and will ensure all tomato-based jar products include a minimum of one serving of vegetables."