How do you make a Mars Bar healthier? Make it smaller.
The Mars Bar is an iconic chocolate representation of our confectionery history. The triple whammy of chocolate, caramel and soft nougat combining to form a unique taste sensation. Or perhaps not. In a quest to make their chocolate bars healthier, Mars are doing funny things to their chocolate bars, including removing the nougat from a Mars Bar, and making the other bars smaller.
The new Mars Caramel, already successfully launched in the US, Canada and Australia is just like a Mars Bar, but without the nougat. So not really anything like a Mars Bar at all. Crucially, however, the calorie count per bar will decrease from 260 to 204 calories per bar. Of course, the new bar also weighs 13g less, which means that there are more calories per gram of bar in the new ‘lighter’ version, but who’s counting.
All this is part of a ‘responsibility deal pledge’ whereby the company agreed to reduce all its bars’ calorific value to under 250 by the end of 2013. Despite replacing nasty palm oil with healthier sunflower oil at the behest of the Food Standards Agency in 2010, it seems the only way Mars is going to meet its targets is to make the bars smaller. MD of Mars UK Fiona Dawson told The Grocer that reformulation “might not be enough” and that some bars would have to shrink, although she called it “experimenting with a number of different sizes with customer groups.”
And this isn’t the first time Mars products have shrunk. The UK company shrank both the Mars and Snickers bars by 7.5 per cent in 2009, bringing them down from 62.5g to 58g without a corresponding cut in price.
A Mars spokesman said the shrinkages were necessary, forming “part of our on-going efforts to encourage responsible consumption.” But do we really want our confectioners to worry about 'responsible consumtion'? Are we even bothered about the calories in our chocolate bars? Surely we don’t eat chocolate as part of a health kick or diet, so why would we care if our Bounty or Snicker was 260 or 250 calories?
While reducing the size of chocolate bars in order to make more profit is not unheard of either- just ask Kraft (owner of Cadburys)- but at least they were upfront about it, rather than pretending they are concerned about the size of our waistlines, rather than the size of their balance sheet.