BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Mars Food, a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., has committed to reducing sodium and added sugar and increasing whole grains and vegetables across its global product portfolio over the next five years. The business segment also said it will begin labeling products as “everyday” or “occasional” to guide consumers in making healthier choices. Mars Foods’ brands include Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Royco, MasterFoods, Suzi Wan and others.
|Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, Drinks, and Multisales|
“We’re incredibly proud and excited to share our new five-year Health and Wellbeing Ambition,” said Fiona Dawson, global president of Mars Food, Drinks, and Multisales. “I’m delighted that Mars Food is helping to provide healthy solutions through our famous brands. Our nutrition criteria sets a very high standard for our products, and we also want to help our consumers understand the difference between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ products within a balanced diet.”
Mars Food aims to reduce sodium in its products by 20% in the next five years, in addition to the 25% reduction that already has been completed; reduce added sugar in a limited number of products by 2018; and add more vegetables and grains to ensure half of its rice products include whole grains and/or legumes and all of its tomato-based jar products contain at least one serving of vegetables.
Mars Food said it publicly supports the Food and Drug Administration releasing sodium reduction guidelines.
“The food industry has already made great strides in reducing sodium, but we have more work to do to help consumers reduce sodium intake,” Ms. Dawson said. “We support release of the U.S. F.D.A.’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.”
Additionally, Mars Food said it will be the first major company to label products that are higher in sugar, salt or fat as “occasional foods,” or those to be eaten once a week. The first set of products will feature new labeling within the next year. Nearly all of its products already include front-of-pack nutrition labeling.In total, the initiative is expected to cost at least $20 million and will require 20,000 man hours, according to the company.