UPDATE: Mars has released several new products that are under 200 calories. As for former large bars, Mars now has multi-piece formats to enable sharing or saving a piece for later. These products are called 2toGo, 4toGo and Tear 'n Share. These products represent more than a single portion, and are labeled as so.
Mars Inc., the maker of Snickers, M&Ms and Twix has decided that by the end of 2013 they will halt sales of chocolate products over 250 calories. In an effort to improve the nutritional value of their products, the candy bars will be coming down in size.
The company first announced their plans of retiring chocolate products that exceeded 250 calories last fall. Spokeswoman Marlene Machit said that the act is part of the company's broad-based commitment to health and nutrition. This is a follow up to Mars enacting responsible advertising. In 2007 the company stated that if more than a quarter of their audience was under 12-years-old they would stop buying advertising time.
We are aware of the high levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in some regions where we operate, said a statement on the Mar's Health and Nutrition web pages. We are taking steps to enhance the nutritional content of our snacks. We are renovating our chocolate products to reduce saturated fats and decrease calories per serving and innovating to give consumers greater choice.
According to Medical News Today, the company already removed 97 percent of trans fats from their chocolate products between 2002 and 2010.
Esta Belkin, Vice President of Vending at Sultana Distribution Services, redistributor of candy, vending, O.C.S. and allied items, believes that the lower calorie candy bar by Mars is a good idea, but should instead just be a low calorie chocolate bar separate from the original. If you get a smaller bar you're not going to be satisfied, said Belkin. Everybody wants it, she said referring to the low calorie and healthy fad that has been sweeping the U.S. But they don't buy it.
Other factors to consider in this new change by Mars, is the possibility of a price increase. Chocolate prices in general have been on the rise, with Hershey increasing their wholesale costs by almost 10 percent just last March. According to Belkin, price of gas, sugar and peanuts among other things all factor into the rising costs of chocolate products.
Belkin said that the Snickers bar is their top selling chocolate candy. Mars just blows everyone away, she said of the privately owned, Virginia based company. But if the smaller package also comes with a price increase, it's possible that consumers may look elsewhere. A similar situation rose recently with Mr. Nature, a trail mix company based out of California. According to Belkin, when the company slimmed down their product size and increased their prices, vendors looked to competitor company, Kar's, who had larger trail mix packaging and lower prices.
Mars has bigger plans for their chocolate products than just smaller packaging. The company will be making their 540 calorie king-size Snickers bar extinct by 2014, and by 2015 Mars will also be reducing sodium levels in all their products by 25 percent. Only time will tell if by reducing calories and size, the company will be increasing sales and prices.