Mars Food Nutrition Criteria Mars Food has developed a set of global nutrition criteria to guide us as we seek to further improve the nutritional composition of our product portfolio. These criteria are based on nutrition science and recommendations from public health authorities worldwide, including the World Health Organization (WHO), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). Mars Food currently offers a variety of products that fit into a healthy lifestyle, and our criteria will guide us as we develop new products in the future. A majority of our product portfolio now meets our criteria, and over time we will increase the percentage of our portfolio that falls within them. Below you will find:
An overview of the nutrition philosophy underpinning the Mars Food approach to Nutrition and Wellness. More information about how we define “responsible nutrition”; and More information about our criteria and how we developed them.
Our nutrition criteria will be regularly reviewed by internal and external nutrition experts to ensure it reflects the latest science and guidance. Our nutrition criteria focus on the following “nutrients to limit” (NTL): energy, added sugar, fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Further iterations will be expanded to include “nutrients to enhance” (NTE).
Our Nutrition & Wellness Philosophy
senses. We stay true to the ingredients and authenticity of recipes, and work to incorporate convenience and nutrition. We believe there are social and physical benefits to making and sharing meals at home that contribute to overall wellness and that our food can bring people together, helping to cultivate healthy families and communities.
The consumer comes first We recognize that consumers have different lifestyles and preferences. We work hard to understand what’s really important to consumers and tailor our products to fit their needs. Every consumer wants and deserves quality, so ALL Mars Food products share the highest standards of quality and food safety. We anchor our business in consumer value, and we will only be satisfied if we are making tasty, nutritious food that’s affordable and available, taking great care to protect the planet and reduce waste as we go.
Great food is both science and art We constantly advance our expertise in nutrition to ensure that our food not only tastes good – but can also inspire healthy eating. We evolve our product development standards with the latest recognized nutrition guidance. We invest in basic research to improve the nutrition quality of our raw ingredients. We aim to keep recipes as simple as possible, while continuously improving the experience of our food through new ingredients and techniques. We strive to create recipes that accentuate the inherent goodness in the grains, vegetables, herbs, and spices that star in our portfolio.
Wellness is a shared responsibility We believe consumers have a right to make informed choices to meet their personal wellness needs, so we provide useful, accurate information about our product’s ingredient and nutrition composition. We set responsible nutrition goals for total energy, and nutrient classes including fat, sodium, and sugar, within the context of a product’s intended role in the diet. We will build consumer confidence by providing clear guidance to successfully prepare a meal, and fit our products into a healthy lifestyle.
Our food should make life easier We believe that by continuously advancing food preservation techniques in our own kitchens we can make nutritious food safe, accessible, and convenient. Today, whether the occasion calls for cooking from scratch, a meal-helper, or a complete meal, Mars Food proudly offers products that can sit on a kitchen shelf, ready to make life easier. We embrace our role in securing the food system to ensure a better world tomorrow for our families, and yours.
Food should be an experience We know that great taste is the most important ingredient to a great meal. By combining our expertise in food science and our passion for world cuisine, we help people create tasty, enjoyable meals that inspire the
criteria for the calorie content or the nutritional composition of the meal, we have taken into account the relative contributions of the meal to daily food intake.
Principles used to define the criteria Public health authorities The daily reference values for the nutrients to limit as recommended by different public health authorities are summarized in Table 1. These values form the basis of the regional nutritional calculations (% Daily Reference Values or Intakes) we use on our labels in the markets in which we operate. For the purpose of the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria applicable across the globe, we have chosen a harmonized set of Daily Reference Values against which to benchmark our products.
Nutritionists recognize that not every meal occasion needs to be fully in balance. The human body is able to buffer energy and nutrient intakes over a time period of a couple of days. This allows individuals to consume different types of meals over that period of time, with different relative contributions of calories, nutrients of concern, and nutrients that are essential, as long as the diet is balanced overall. In this sense, there is a place for light meals and snacks, for “every day” meals, and from time to time, indulgent meals and snacks. The role of the product in the meal Our product portfolio covers a wide range of products, ranging from those that are used in “scratch cooking” to ready meals; from products that are plain grains to condiments that deliver taste and flavor profiles to the meal; from light snacks to indulgent meal kits. The criteria applied to various types of Mars Food products are based on the typical role of that food in a meal.
The contribution of the meal to daily food intake Across the world, different cultures are accustomed to different types of diets.
Nutritional contribution of the serving To help consumers understand how much of a given nutrient our products provide as compared to daily nutrition recommendations, we have based our Nutrition Criteria on the amount of our products typically consumed in one serving. In geographies where serving size is standardized or regulated, we apply the prescribed serving size. In other geographies, we apply portion sizes that are in line with consumer habits.
Typically for the Western hemisphere, individuals consume 20% of daily calories at breakfast, 30% at lunch, and 30% at dinner, with the remaining calories coming from a mid-morning snack and/or an afternoon break8. Alternatively, some communities in other parts of the world may have only one main meal per day. Clearly, the significance of these meal occasions is different and therefore, in setting 3
Mars Food Nutrition Criteria Table 2, below, shows the current Mars Food Nutrition Criteria with respect to nutrients to limit (NTL). For a given product, the levels of these nutrients delivered by a serving of the product are expressed as a percentage of the Daily Reference Value, and these values are compared to the criteria in Table 1. These thresholds are used to benchmark the nutritional contribution of our products and to track over time the overall performance of our portfolio. These criteria also instruct our globally aligned product development teams on reformulation targets and are incorporated into plans for the development of new products. This approach will lead to a gradual improvement in the nutritional composition of the Mars Food portfolio. Not all products will be able to be reformulated within these criteria given the unique, authentic nature of the recipe and the importance of maintaining taste for the consumer. For those products, we will ensure transparent nutrition labeling, including frontof-pack Guideline Daily Amount labeling, and we will provide guidance to consumers regarding portion size and recommended frequency of consumption as part of a healthy diet. The Mars Food Nutrition Criteria apply to all product categories, with the exception of condiments, herbs, and spices.
Table 1: Daily Reference Values for Nutrients to Limit, as published by different public health authorities Energy (kcal) WHO1 – 2012
WHO5 – 2015
USDA2 - 2010
Trans-Fatty Acids (g)
Sodium (mg) 2000
MARS Food Nutrition Criteria
*Corresponds to the requirements of a moderately active woman. **Corresponds to average intake of adult males and females surveyed in Australia 9,265 kJ and New Zealand (8200 kJ). *** African Americans, individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, and individuals ages 51 and older (together comprising about half of the U.S. population ages 2 and older). **** For a recommended calorie intake of a moderately active woman, 10% of daily calorie intake is equivalent to 50 g of added/free sugar; 1% is equivalent to 2.2 grams of trans fatty acids. ***** 2000 mg/day was chosen as our guardrail, while for the purpose of front-of-pack labeling the regional sodium reference values are still used.
Table 2: Mars Food Nutrition Criteria for Nutrients to Limit delivered by a serving, expressed as a percent of Daily Reference Values Categories based on intended use
Product role in the meal
Example Mars Food product(s)
Every day meal occasions
meal kits risotto