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Mars looks to UK kosher appeal in ongoing brand shake-up

By Neil Merrett , 11-Jun-2009

Mars has obtained kosher certification at one of its UK production plants in attempts to ensurebrands like Mars bars, Snickers and Galaxy made at the site comply with the religious standards.

The plant, situated in Slough, England, has been certified by the Kashrut Division of the London Beth Din (KLBD), in a move Mars says reflects an ongoing company-wide review of additive and formulation policies for its brands.

Kosher certification outlines permissible standards that meats, food products and other consumer goods can be produced under according to Judaism. Sales of food products approved under these standards are thought to have grown strongly in recent years amidst increasing manufacturing interest and consumer fears over food hygiene.

Approval practice

In terms of obtaining the approval for its chocolate brands, Mars says it has gained approval for all ingredients and processing aids used in its products as part of legal contract outlining its commitments. The certification also requires Mars to obtain Beth Din approval for any future changes made to its brands and to undergo regular inspections at the Slough site.

Brand overhaul

According to the manufacturer, the UK kosher strategy is the latest development in amending production and formulation of its leading brands including Twix and Milky Way over the last year.

Fiona Dawson, managing director for Mars Chocolate, says that certification reflects wider commitments to open up its products to as wide a consumer market as possible through removing artificial colours, flavourings and preservatives from its products.

“This is the latest of a series of announcements affecting some of our most iconic products and we are delighted to be working with KLBD to give our consumers what they want,” she states.

“Each of these products are now clearly labelled on pack detailing guideline daily amounts for the intake of calories, fats - including saturates - sugar and salt,” adds the company.

Market size

Using the US market as a guide, analyst Packaged Facts estimates kosher food sales through grocery stores jumped from $142bn in 2003 to $211bn in 2008, growing twice as fast as the food market as a whole.

But overall, kosher-identified brands are not growing, and the Jewish population is shrinking, so growth is due to more certification and more consumers seeking kosher products, it said. For specialist ethnic kosher food companies, this means they “must expand their sights in order to grow.”

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