The World's Biggest Candy Company Wants You to Eat Less Sugar—Here's Why

June 21, 2016
by Steve Holt for Thrive Market
The World's Biggest Candy Company Wants You to Eat Less Sugar—Here's Why

On almost every fast-food dessert menu, you’re likely to find at least one treat covered in candy. That could soon change. Customers who love M&Ms in their McFlurry may be out of luck if Mars, Inc., goes through a plan that’s in the works.

According to unnamed industry sources quoted in a Reuters report this week, the conglomerate behind M&M candies is considering halting partnerships with fast-food restaurants that include the candies in their desserts. If the move comes to pass, it wouldn’t be due to a cynical cost-cutting measure. Instead, it's part of a company-wide initiative to encourage better nutritional choices among its customers.

Mars is reportedly concerned that the branded desserts featuring its candies, including the M&Ms McFlurry at McDonald's or Burger King's Snickers pie, shatter—in a single serving—the recommended sugar intake for an entire day. Numerous national and world health agencies have stated that sugar should not comprise more than 10 percent of a person’s total daily calories—a recommendation Mars publicly supported in March.

“We recognize that the health and nutritional challenges facing our society are daunting,” the company wrote in a statement. “As a business, we are hard at work developing an overall health and well-being strategy for our company and our diverse portfolio, and we are committed to being a part of the solution to this challenge.”

In 2008, Mars became the first United States company to list calories and sugar on all products, and in 2013 limited all products to 250 calories per serving—eliminating its line of king-sized candy bars. In March, Mars committed to supporting efforts to include added sugar values on food labels, removing trans fats from its products, and stop marketing its products to children. Pulling products from fast-food menus would be one more positive step, and a continuation of these commitments. (Note, in the Reuters story, a Mars spokesperson would not confirm that the company is in fact taking this step).

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a “strong” recommendation last year for all people to limit sugars to 10 percent of their daily intake. The recommendation was based on the latest scientific evidence, which shows that a higher sugar intake is associated with obesity and weight gain, while reducing sugars leads to weight loss.

By all accounts, Mars appears to be heading the WHO’s warnings, underscoring the importance of companies voluntarily improving the nutritional content of their products. Other companies—like Nestlé—have reduced the sugar content in products over the years, albeit stealthily, so as not to “spook” customers expecting a certain taste to remain.

These corporate moves are also likely connected to the trend of customers seeking healthier foods for their families. Globally, about two-thirds of consumers are concerned about sugar intake, according to a survey by industry publication Food Navigator.

In other words, the more we demand goodness from the businesses we purchase from, the more likely we are to see the Mars, Inc's, of the world take heed.

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This article is related to: Food, Health, Nutrition, News

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16 thoughts on “The World's Biggest Candy Company Wants You to Eat Less Sugar—Here's Why”

  • Edwin Bellinger
    Edwin Bellinger June 21, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    They eliminated the king size name and renamed it sharing size.

  • Revella

    Exactly my first thought Edwin!

  • Esmedoodles

    I love candy and sweets but most of them are just TOO sweet. So, I don't eat a full "serving size" portion. One or two bites curbs my sweet tooth.

  • turtlefoot

    Yep; remember when candy was a small treat that you got either unexpectedly as a little gift or as a 'planned reward' for some childish enterprise assigned to you (bribe from Grandma)? Candy alone is obviously not the entire reason for the increasing waists, but all the added sugar in the SAD (standard American diet) certainly is one of the key factors. Good for the Mars corporation to take this position.

  • Connie King

    All's well with cutting sugar from the populations diet, however, why do companies and corporations feel it is their obligation to control or limit what the people eat. It is the populations responsibility to eat healthy. Guess I'm just getting fed up with all the different laws being put in place to control what I should do rather than taking responsibility for myself and eating healthy.

    So now, if the Mars Corp implements this change, it will impact the occasional splurge I enjoy when treating myself with M&M's and ice cream.

    If they are so concerned with sugar, why don't they make candy "sugar-free". There are plenty of substitutes that are natural sweeteners that will not cause cancer. Stevia is an example and good natural sweeteners include: coconut sugar, molasses, honey and maple syrup.They ought to look into that aspect of candy making rather than killing the market. It's funny, they don't blink an eye to using "corn" sugars ie: corn syrup rather than regular sugar. Most use High-fructose corn syrup, which has actually been linked to causing metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.

    • turtlefoot

      My take on this corporate move is that they don't want to contribute to the problem directly; people always have the option of purchasing M&Ms and ice cream and putting it together themselves if that's what they're craving. It's true that the more unprocessed sugars you listed are healthier than processed white sugar and surely healthier than HFCS, but even with stevia, there is a big difference even among the 'stevias' available to the public and not all are as good a substiture as advertising would lead one to believe. I don't see where Mars is in any way controlling what folks eat; there are myriads of choices freely available in the marketplace. It's not difficult to mix your own M&Ms flurry.

    • Dias

      All those natural sweeteners you listed are sweet because they contain
      sugars. Refined sugar just lacks all the other stuff in it, & consuming them unrefined doesn't make that sugar any less bad for you.

      Eating artificial sweeteners aren't very good for candy because they
      tend to cause unpleasant side-effects like diarrhea that might
      discourage consumption of their candy entirely, at least when consumed in the quantities that they're advising against.

    • I Kantye

      They don't use stevia probably because they'd have to shell out more money. If you notice most stevia products are much higher than regular sugar products. But I've always felt that way too, let us decide what we want!

  • Anna Rawson

    Mars... Where do you get your cocoa beans from?Ivory Coast in Africa? Isn't that where the children are duped into slavery? Big talk from these big chocolate companies to poor villages about riches and good food, clean water. These children HOPE to get out in this way... However, they end up, Never being able to leave beacause they NOW have quotas to earn daily or get a hand cut off. Many never run because of the fear of getting caught and or shaming their family with no "riches" to help upon return. They endure weather , very little nurishment or water. Not to mention the abuse. Instead of trying to impress these gine folks here with your pitiful portions of measured efforts, Address the real atrocities you hide while trying to impress upon them how saintly you are.
    You raped, pilliaged and destroyed their very way of life.... for money. I am aware you creatures do not care.... However, You lose and you know it.

  • Herb Fogelberg
    Herb Fogelberg July 24, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I used to eat far more candy than I do now. Once MN began taxing candy, I said screw it. We pay way to much taxes as it is, so that on top of the general price of candy while at the same time reduction in size, I have learned to do with out.

  • I Kantye

    I still see the giant snickers in stores they're only cut in half now in the package. I used to eating them regularly when I was younger.

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