Mars plans raft of healthy snacks to combat ad bans

Mars is to launch a stream of healthy products following its decision to axe marketing of its confectionery and snack food products to children under 12 years old.

The company says it will only advertise healthy products to children aged nine and above. But it admits it has no confectionery or snack products that match these standards.

Masterfoods – whose brands include Mars Bar, Snickers, Twix and Starburst – has been consistently lambasted by health campaigners, who say its calorie-laden confectionery encourages obesity.

But the food giant says it will develop “better for you” products aimed at individual groups including children and young adults.

A spokeswoman says: “For each specific target group, Mars intends to develop products formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of such target groups.”

She says the products will be clearly defined, labelled and promoted in relation to the relevant groups. Mars will continue to offer its core products, including the confectionery portfolio, alongside the “better for you” products.

The company already has a policy of not aiming advertising at under-sixes and the new ban will start by the end of 2007. It will include brand-specific websites and online advertising as well as traditional advertising.

It says the change in stance will not affect its media budgets, as marketing aimed at children under 12 years for its core confectionery and snack food products traditionally makes up less than 5% of its activities. Last year, Masterfoods’ confectionery division spent almost £40m in the UK, according to Nielsen figures.

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