Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Mars has a new health (read: marketing) initiative



Not having internets yet (we moved last weekend) has put a cramp in the blogging. Sorry for leaving you all post-less on Wednesday. I’m currently posted up at my fave local cafe with a pina colada tart and a vat of coffee, using the wifi, the sacrifices I make for you guys ;)

Have you heard that Mars Food has launched a “global wellness initiative”? This Health and Wellbeing Ambition will ostensibly develop and promote healthier food choices. Skeptical? Yeah, me too. I’d love to think that this would be effective but I’m inclined to think that it’s more lip-service and marketing than a genuine concern for the health and well being of people.

The key changes that they’ll be making include:

  • providing consumer guidance on the package
  • changing the Mars Food website to include a list of “occasional” products (those to be enjoyed once per week) and a list of “everyday” products
  • reducing added sugar (in a limited number of sauces and light meals by 2018) and sodium (an average of 20 percent by 2021) and adding vegetables and whole grains
  • expanding multi-grain options so that half of all rice products include whole grains and/or legumes; and will also ensure that all tomato-based jar products include a minimum of one serving of vegetables

Honestly, I don’t see any of these “changes” being dramatic or making a significant different in the health of consumers. I’m curious what the consumer guidance on the packaging will look like. However, I can’t imagine anyone going to the Mars website to check to see how often they should be consuming chocolate bars. It’s not the Ben’s rice that’s having a negative impact on peoples health (well, I guess that depends on the individual, but generally speaking…). It’s the incredibly inexpensive chocolate bars (yes, that’s only one piece of a complicated puzzle) that are available everywhere in prominent displays.

Just as a bit of an aside, tomato sauces will include a minimum of one serving of vegetables?! What sauces are these that they don’t already? Unless they’re increasing the serving size, there’s no way that this can be achieved by simply adding more vegetables. It’s the sort of statement that sounds good until you actually think about it. At which point you realise that all of the statements made by Mars are that sort of statement. Designed to make the company look good without making any real significant effort or meaningful change.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

6 thoughts on “Mars has a new health (read: marketing) initiative

  1. Much ado about marketing! Mars, Coca Cola, etc. are as slick as they come. What next? Chocolate milk as fitness food?? Oh, wait … never mind. Years ago i saw a “PSA” brochure from soft drink manufacturers saying that they never intended sodas to displace healthful beverages in the US diet: basically they blamed lousy moms for this phenomenon, with a line thrown in about good oral hygiene to address dentists’ concerns. Of course they moved into the juice, sports drink and milk fields just in case the “health nuts” managed to depress soda sales. One small quibble. I wouldn’t think of Mars confections as “chocolate bars”. I like the US expression “candy bar” better: it’s more accurate. In some European stores, these products are often sold on a different aisle from the chocolate products. A bar with 60/70/80% cacao, even if spiced, is a chocolate bar, and it is also fairly described as “food”. The salty, sugary and low-grade milk chocolate stuffed with goo is something different. I’m not denying that some of these can be tasty, tho. There’s an evil genius in the way fast/junk food is taste-designed to appeal to our basest eating instincts!! Couple that with a slick marketing campaign, one that even concedes that moderation is a good thing, and you’ve got sales! Makes me wanna “snicker” LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 100% agree! Yet the public has pushed the company to give a baby step. Further pressure should force them to (reluctantly) move their “prominent posterior” a bit more.


  3. Just wait for the chocolate milk on the everyday products list for the ultimate trigger ^^


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