I’ll admit: I didn’t see this coming.
Last week, eight major candy manufacturers — a confectionery Justice League, if you will — joined forces on a new mission, but it’s not to stamp out crime.
In collaboration with Partnership for a Healthier America, the group — Mars Chocolate, Wrigley, Nestlé USA, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Russell Stover, and Ferrara Candy Co. — have committed to reducing calories in their individually-wrapped products and updating front-of-pack nutrition labels as part of a continued effort to offer consumers greater choice and transparency.
Whenever you team up with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), it makes for good press — especially at a time when sugar content and intake are heavily scrutinized, even demonized.
As it stands, by 2022, half of the individually-wrapped products produced by committed manufacturers will have 200 calories or fewer. Furthermore, calorie information will be printed on the front of 90 percent of best-selling treats made by those companies.
Interestingly, two weeks prior to the Big Candy announcement, Hershey also announced plans to update front-of-pack calorie labels and make more of its standard- and king-sized items with 200 calories or fewer. However, the company did not discuss working with PHA.
The PHA announcement is a big deal, for a couple reasons. Cross-industry collaboration takes a lot of work, particularly when it involves major players who may not always have the flexibility to quickly take on new causes and initiatives. Furthermore, taking a joint stand on a health-related matter shows the industry is paying attention to consumers’ needs and is willing to meet them. That’s a big step toward creating longevity in customer relationships and the industry as a whole.
John Downs, president and ceo of the National Confectioners Association, said the organization is “proud” to partner with the PHA and continue educating consumers on making informed choices.
“Over the next five years, the participating chocolate and candy companies will help consumers better understand the unique role that confections can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle,” Downs said. “As we focus and leverage the companies’ expertise in marketing, innovation, and distribution, our goal is to reinforce for consumers that chocolate and candy are treats.”
And just to explain a bit, the PHA — which was founded in 2010 in conjunction with but independently from Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign — is a nonpartisan, nonprofit that is led by some of the nation’s most respected health and childhood obesity advocates.
It seeks to bring together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Its board of directors also includes nationally recognized business leaders, advocates, health professionals and thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to Michelle Obama serving as honorary chairman, Dr. Bill Frist, former Republican Senate Majority Leader and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) are honorary vice-chairmen. Collaboration from both sides of the political aisle.
So kudos to the Transparent Eight (or Nine) and the NCA. It’s definitely in step with the times.