Confectionery companies are no strangers to criticism over the health implications of their products.
Three of the industry's biggest players in the UK were part of a recent Food and Drink Federation (FDF) survey to see how producers had responded its health manifesto, launched a year ago.
Cadbury, Masterfoods and Nestle were all reported to have made steps in improving their product lines. An FDF spokesperson told ConfectioneryNews.com that "all confectionery companies are doing their bit and reviewing their formulations" .
The manifesto, created in September 2004, set out a number of commitments and focused around seven main points.
More informative labelling was called for, including nutritional information on products that had reduced levels of fat and salt. Producers were expected to try and help reduce over-consumption by reviewing their portion sizes, as well broadening choice and removing branding when vending machines.
The industry was also asked to act as an example for healthy living, initiate public education and remove advertising directed at children.
Much criticism has been levied at confectioners in relation to some of these points, and in particular on portion size.
Yet, a spokesperson for Masterfoods reiterated the firm's commitment to the FDF manifesto. She told ConfectioneryNews.com that "from January 2006 Mars and Snickers 'Big One' will be sold in a two-piece format" enabling consumers to "facilitate sharing or consumption on more than one occasion" .
This re-marketing of products will of course be met with cynicism from some quarters, but changes are being made. Nestlé has removed all artificial colours from its Rowntree brand as well as removing all trans fatty acids, and Cadbury is said to be extending its range of sugar free and reduced sugar confectionery.
The FDF acknowledged "there will always be criticism, but there are more plans and this is a long term commitment" .
The FDF aims to promote the UK's food and drink industry to build consumer confidence and, at least in terms of the confectionery companies, it feels there "is evidence that they are genuinely tackling the issue".