Mars Foods is the first food giant to warn customers that some products should only be eaten occasionally. In the interests of making healthier food choices, Mars wants to change the palates of consumers. Mars is one of the first global food companies to provide explicit guidance to consumers ‘on pack’ as to how often these ‘occasional’ meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet.
They’ve added ‘occasional’ use label to some of their packaging, particularly on the DOLMIO range of products, which accounts for around 5% of Mars Food products. But it’s a big gamble – will shoppers change their consumption behaviour as hoped for, or will they switch to a competitor brand, that might be just as unhealthy, but which isn’t so overt in their health messaging?
But it’s not all about the small print, it’s a big global clash. Companies are saying they will change over under their own steam and can be left to self-regulate. On the other hand, other organisations want the government to lead change to ensure it happens consistently.
I was interviewed by ITV News to comment on how manufacturers are looking at their sugar and salt levels. I was asked to give an insider’s view on how brands use sensory testing.
At Marketing Sciences Unlimited we test products for many companies within our sensory laboratory in Kent. We use our ‘supertasters’ to profile and score products to see how levels of sugar and salt can be reduced without altering the taste, where possible. According to the public, the onus is on manufacturers to do something about sugar levels, and sensory testing and reformulation is a key method.
In the ITV segment , a consumer says, “A pasta sauce seems like a basic product with only tomatoes and herbs and you won’t expect there to be so much sugar and salt in them.”
It is our job to work with manufacturers to help identify and test reduced sugar and salt options to minimise impact on taste & texture, and therefore consumer enjoyment. To find out more, please contact me!