Five major chocolate and candy companies announced a joint commitment on Thursday to reduce calories in many sweets sold on the U.S. market, a rare example of cooperation in a competitive industry and testament to a rising consumer distaste for sugar.
The United States is the world’s largest consumer of sweeteners and obesity, diabetes and heart disease rank among leading health concerns in the country.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration overhauled packaged foods labeling last year and required all manufacturers to list added sugars on labels by 2018.
Companies including Mars Chocolate North America LLC, Nestle USA, WM Wrigley Jr Co and Lindt & Spruengli, said they had committed to ensuring that half of their individually wrapped products sold in the United States contain no more than 200 calories within the next five years.
“There’s going to be less sugar and less calories in the food that consumers are going to be eating,” said Larry Soler, president and chief executive for Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA).
The commitment by the group of companies, which includes clearly stating the calorie count on 90 percent of their best-selling products, will be monitored for five years by PHA and the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
“They want to make sure that they meet the consumers where the consumers want to be met,” said John Downs, National Confectioners Association president and chief executive.
The companies, which include the makers of M&M’s and Jaw Busters, could cut calories by reducing package sizing or reformulating recipes, as well as launching new products.
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