Improving our Products

Uncle Ben's® Express Basmati Rice pack shot

As a leading provider of food for people and pets, we want to make sure the products we offer, and the ingredients they contain, fit into a balanced diet. We are continuously investigating ways to improve the nutritional content of our products without compromising taste, convenience, quality or affordability.

Reformulating Chocolate Products

Rising levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes are causing concern globally, and we are using various strategies to continuously improve our products. These include using less of some ingredients, and eliminating others altogether. Obesity is a complex challenge, impacted by everything from how we live, how we work, social and economic factors, urban design, culture, genetics and how we eat. Calorie intake is one contributor.

”Saturated fat is a health issue that needs addressing by consumers and food manufacturers alike. In order to reduce total intakes across the population to below 10 percent of total energy intake, the formulation of all sources of saturated fat – even popular treats – needs to be tackled. Any initiative to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the UK diet is a step in the right direction.”
Judy Buttriss,
Director General of the British Nutrition Foundation

We are proud of our products and the pleasure they bring, and we also believe they need to be part of a healthy, balanced diet. We take seriously the role we play in supporting the control of obesity and have taken a number of steps in this direction.

For instance, we reformulated all Mars Chocolate products globally between 2002 and 2010, removing all trans fats apart from those that occur naturally or are made during processing. Trans fats have been recognized by scientists as raising LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and lowering HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), which can increase the risk of heart disease. Our efforts have removed 97 percent of all trans fats. Some saturated fats have also been shown to raise LDL. Around the world we are finding ways to reduce these fats. For example, we have removed at least 15 percent of saturated fats from MARS®, SNICKERS®, MILKY WAY® and TOPIC® bars in the U.K. and major European markets. These products now have 35 to 45 percent less saturated fat per 100 grams than the average of the top 25 chocolate brands in each market.

In North America, we have reduced saturated fat in TWIX® bars by 18 percent per serving. Saturated fats in MARS® bars in Australia have decreased by 22 percent, from 5.7g to 4.4g per 53g bar. We also lowered saturated fat in MILKY WAY® bars by 19 percent per 25g bar. All these reductions resulted from a combination of reformulation and a change in portion size.

But this is just the start. We continue to introduce more options so people can choose the right Mars products for their lifestyles. For example, in the U.S. Mars Chocolate has introduced "2toGo" bars: two pieces of chocolate packaged in a special type of memory wrap that can be twisted closed, making it easier to save a portion for later.

”Mars takes the debate on the issue of nutrition seriously and is committed to a healthy lifestyle. With its 'promise of action' to reduce the salt content in different Mars Food products, Mars Switzerland is making a contribution to the promotion of health in Switzerland in line with the aims of actionsanté.”
Alberto Marcacci,
Leiter Büro actionsanté,
Bundesamt für Gesundheit / Federal Office of Public Health

Mars Food Nutrition Criteria

At Mars Food, we are committed to offering a wide variety of products that consumers can enjoy as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. We call this our commitment to responsible nutrition, and to bring this commitment to life we have developed nutrition criteria that will guide us as we seek to further improve the nutritional composition of our product portfolio. Currently, a majority of our product portfolio meets these criteria, and we will increase portfolio progress against these criteria over time. To achieve that goal, some existing products will be reformulated, while new products will be developed with these nutrition criteria in mind. As we continue on this journey, we will report on our progress through our annual Principles in Action summary.

Our nutrition criteria are based on nutrition recommendations made by the World Health Organization (WHO) and recent nutrition guidance developed by national governments. Where nutrition recommendations differ across leading authorities, we have used the most strict nutrition guidance as our reference point when comparing the nutrient composition of our products against daily recommended intake levels (so-called “daily values”). Nutrition guidance tells us that individuals should increase intake of lean protein, healthy fats, and micro-nutrients, and reduce intake of added sugars, sodium (salt), and unhealthy fats. For that reason, the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria align with WHO’s recommended daily sodium intake of 2000mg and its daily recommended added sugar intake of no more than 10% calories from added sugar. For all of our main meal products, we aim for these products to provide less than 30% of the daily recommended intake of “nutrients to limit”, including calories, added sugar, sodium, total fat, and saturated fat. In the future, we plan to expand our criteria to include goals for inclusion of whole grains, fiber, and vegetables in our products.

As we developed our nutrition criteria, we considered how individual products are incorporated into meals at home.Our products serve different purposes – some are condiments, others are main meals, and others are side dishes. We aim to develop products that fit into healthy diets balanced over the course of several days or a week, allowing for the occasional treat and special meal.

Although we have already made significant progress, we still have some work to do to bring more of our products in line with our nutrition criteria. As we continue our efforts to provide responsible nutrition, we remain committed to offering consumers a wide variety of products from which to choose, and we will provide clear nutrition and serving size information on-pack to help consumers choose those products that best fit into their diets and lifestyles.

Read more about the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria .

Lowering Sodium

The Mars Food portfolio offers products that are nutritious, healthy and tasty, and we are working to make them even more so. High dietary sodium levels have been linked with high blood pressure in some populations, so we are reformulating our recipes to reduce sodium levels without losing flavor.

Our target is to reduce sodium levels in Mars Food products globally by an average of 25 percent by 2015, from a 2007 baseline (excluding products that already meet regionally agreed sodium level targets). The best example of progress globally is a sodium level reduction of between 25 and 31 percent in UNCLE BEN’S® flavored Ready to Heat products.

This success is the result of our partnerships with government initiatives, such as voluntary reduction commitments in different regions. Our efforts began in the U.K., which has the most stringent salt reduction standards, and we are following the country’s leadership in this area. We have committed to reduce the sodium content of our products across the European Union (EU), based on the criteria set out by the U.K. Food Standards Agency/Department of Health (FSA/DoH). Our U.K. Food portfolio is 100 percent compliant with the FSA's targets. In the U.S. we have joined forces with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI).

“For the last four years Mars Food Australia has been working with the Heart Foundation Tick Program to renovate and innovate their products to meet Tick nutrition standards, as well as providing input into the development of criteria for several different product categories. They are strongly supporting our commitment to offer healthier choices to consumers.”

Sarah McMillan,
Retail Account Manager - Heart Foundation Tick,
Heart Foundation

We have already begun sodium reduction efforts in our largest markets, and have voluntarily committed to reducing salt in our products globally (excluding products that already meet regionally agreed sodium level targets). All new products will be developed to meet our salt targets.

Mars Food in Australia has made great progress at reducing salt across its portfolio. It has reformulated a number of products to meet the National Heart Foundation’s Tick of Approval standard, and has committed to reduce the sodium content of its pasta sauces, Indian-style sauces and other sauces that exceed 420 milligrams per 100 grams by 15 percent by the end of 2014.

Simplifying Ingredients

Mars Food is finding ways to make a difference in family diets by making our products even more nutritious and natural, and by using fewer, simpler and more wholesome ingredients. For example, our DOLMIO® pasta sauces now have lower salt, less water and no starch.

Our 2007 renovation of European DOLMIO® Bolognese Pasta Sauces boosted tomato content to the equivalent of 10 whole tomatoes in every jar and shifted to ingredients that can be found in the average kitchen cupboard. A serving of DOLMIO® Bolognese Pasta Sauce provides one of the recommended five daily servings of fruits and vegetables and contains only natural ingredients.

We are also looking at ways to provide simple, tasty meals to people with limited time to cook. Examples include our new UNCLE BEN'S® RICETIME and DOLMIO® PASTAVITA in the U.K. These provide a delicious meal in two pots, made with simple, quality ingredients that are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. These delicious, pre-prepared meals do not need to be refrigerated and offer a quick, easy and healthy individual meal.

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