How can “big food” be part of the solution to big issues facing consumers and the world today? That is the question we ask ourselves every day. We have made health and wellbeing innovation and consumer transparency top priorities for our business. Read on to learn about our collaboration with Partnership for a Healthier America, Mars Food’s Health & Wellbeing progress report, and our efforts to push for the final release of the Nutrition Facts Panel Guidelines.
Around the Table at the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit
In May, Mars Food North America sponsored the Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) sixth-annual Building a Healthier Future Summit. Hundreds of government stakeholders, food industry influencers, non-profits, consumer packaged goods companies, and more gathered at the annual event which raises awareness and inspires action to reduce childhood obesity.
Last year, Mars Food announced the Health & Wellbeing Ambition – a commitment to deliver one billion more healthy meals shared on dinner tables around the world. Since the announcement, Mars Food has provided 59 million healthy meals shared on dinner tables around the globe and is currently on track to reach their target by 2021. Not only is Mars Food providing healthy meal options, helping Associates practice healthier habits, and inspiring cooking and eating together, Mars Food is also building awareness of PHA programs such as the Fruits-N-Veggies campaign. Through the six-year partnership, PHA will validate Mars Food's progress toward meeting its commitments. “PHA objectively measures and validates the progress we’re making against our Health & Wellbeing goals in the U.S.,” said Caroline Sherman, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Mars Food North America. “It’s a great example of mutuality at work.”
Additionally, Mars Chocolate North America and Wrigley U.S. announced their health and wellbeing commitments during the Summit. In collaboration with PHA and other industry players including Nestlé, Lindt, Ferrara Candy, and Ferrero, Mars will focus on providing more product choice and transparency for consumers. Mars Chocolate and Wrigley have committed over $200 million to lead on new product innovation under 200 calories, front of pack calorie labeling, and consumer education.
Mars Chocolate and Wrigley have committed the following:
1. Ensure half of all Mars Chocolate and Wrigley individually wrapped products will be 200 calories or less by 2022;
2. Partner across the industry to replace “King Size” with “Sharing Size” offerings; and
3. Educate consumers that candy is a treat, and not an everyday snack or meal replacement.
“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” said Tracey Massey, President of Mars Chocolate North America.
“We began our relationship with Mars Food through UNCLE BEN’S® and SEEDS OF CHANGE® to increase healthier choices for families,” said Larry Soler, President and CEO of PHA. “The announcement extends to Mars Chocolate and Wrigley to help reduce calories and increase transparency, which will help all Americans have more choices."
One Billion More Healthy Meals: Mars Food’s Progress Report
Last year, Mars Food announced its Global Health & Wellbeing Ambition to deliver One Billion More Healthy Meals Shared on Dinner Tables Around the World. We’re proud to report that we are on track to reach our five-year Ambition!
We’ve used the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria – based on the World Health Organization's nutrition recommendations – to guide reductions in sodium and added sugar in some of our products. Today, 65 percent of our products meet these strict nutrition criteria for added sugar, sodium, and fat content, which we’ll increase to 95 percent by 2021. We’ve already delivered 59 million more healthy meals and are on track to deliver an additional 200 million more next year.
We’re also making progress in adding more whole grains to our products, to ensure our rice products deliver even more nutrition. By 2021, we’ve committed that 50 percent of our rice products will include a serving of whole grains or legumes per serving. Today, 38 percent of our rice products meet this standard – 75 percent of the way toward our goal!
Of course, what’s on the dinner plate is just one component of health and wellbeing. That’s why our leading brands are inspiring family cooking and meal sharing through their campaigns, based on the compelling evidence that family dinnertime is associated with positive physical and mental health benefits.
Finally, we’re “walking the talk” with our own Mars Food Associates, investing in health and wellbeing programs that can help them live healthier lives. We’re proud that all of our sites now offer healthy meal options, and 84 percent of our sites offer Associates nutrition education as well as a kitchen where they can cook and eat healthy meals together. In addition, a majority of our sites offer access to fitness facilities. We’re working to close gaps to ensure that all of our Associates enjoy these benefits by 2021.
We know we still have work to do but are proud of what we’ve been able to achieve this past year. To read the full progress report visit the Mars Food Health & Wellbeing website.
Mars Committed to Nutrition Facts Panel Update
We believe transparency helps consumers make better choices about their food.
That is why Mars submitted a letter to U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Thomas Price, M.D. in April requesting the release of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rules for the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP). Following the FDA’s announcement to extend the compliance date in early June, Mars has vocally advocated the FDA stick to the original 2018 implementation deadline to update the NFP and serving sizes for packaged foods.
As one of the nation’s largest food companies, we believe in giving consumers more transparency. The extension will only confuse consumers.
When the NFP was first unveiled last year, Mars was one of the first food manufacturers to support FDA’s final rule to update the NFP to include added sugar labeling and a new sodium daily value. Our commitment to help limit the intake of added sugars and sodium builds on what we have done to help consumers reach their nutritional goals.
FDA’s release of the rule helps us provide clear and meaningful information about the ingredients used in Mars products.