Global Chocolate and Candy Companies Collaborate on Transparency, Education Plan

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

May 12, 2017

Several leading global chocolate and candy companies are coming together to provide consumers with information, options and support as they enjoy their favorite treats. The companies − Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestlé USA, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover and Ferrara Candy Co.− together account for about 50 percent of the confectionery market. Their partnership calls for 90 percent of their top-selling products to clearly state calorie information on the front side of the package labels. By making this commitment, the organizations are redoubling their efforts to create more options in innovative packaging, and educate consumers about how unique products like chocolate and candy can play a role in a happy, balanced lifestyle.

The companies announced the move, reported to be a first in the confectionery industry, on May 12 at the Partnership for a Healthier America Building a Healthier Future Summit. PHA will report independent, third-party verification of the commitment on progressreports.ahealthieramerica.org.

Commitment details include:
●Half of the individually wrapped products made by the participating companies will be available in sizes that contain 200 calories or less per pack by 2022.
●In the next few years, consumers will see more package/product options in smaller sizes – and innovative new products. Currently, more than 60 percent of the companies’ individually wrapped products that contain less than 250 calories per pack.
●Within the next five years, 90 percent of the best-selling treats made by these companies will have calorie information printed on the front of the pack, which puts calories for the entire package at consumers’ fingertips, helping them feel empowered when they choose their favorite treat.
●Also over the next five years, a new AlwaysATreat.com website will begin to evolve into a digital resource full of easy-to-use information for consumers to better understand the unique role that confections can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle.

The quartet of companies also announced they plan to work on educating consumers on candy's role as a treat, not a snack or meal replacement.

"Chocolate and candy have always been a treat, and this is a big commitment by the participating companies to keep it that way," says John Downs, president & CEO of the National Confectioners Association, Washington. "We are proud to make this five-year commitment with The Partnership for a Healthier America, a highly regarded nonprofit organization that will help us track and verify this meaningful initiative. This is the first step on our journey to recruit other companies to join us as we work to help consumers manage their sugar intake and ensure that they feel empowered to make informed choices."

Progress on the commitment will be monitored and reported by the PHA in conjunction with a policy research organization called Hudson Institute. 

"Over the next five years, the participating chocolate and candy companies will help consumers better understand the unique role that confections can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle," Downs adds. "As we focus and leverage the companies’ expertise in marketing, innovation, and distribution, our goal is to reinforce for consumers that chocolate and candy are treats."

Mars says that it alone has invested $200 million in R&D and manufacturing in the last year as part of the initiative. In the last few weeks, the company says it launched new caramel M&Ms and Maltesers that are less than 200 calories (right now about 30 percent of its individually wrapped products are less than 200 calories). It also now has 100-calorie versions of candies including Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Skittles, and Starburst.

"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," says Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America. "By joining forces with PHA and other leading confectionery manufacturers to create even deeper commitments, 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."

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