In the UK, Mars has reformulated its Mars bars as well as its Snickers, Milky Way and Topic bars with 15 per cent less saturated fat per bar compared to the old recipes. The new versions will go on sale in September.
Meanwhile, in France over the summer Mars began to put new versions of its Snickers, Mars and Milky Way products on sale with 15 to 20 per cent less saturated fat.
Mars said the new recipes were the result of a €10m investment in research and development over a period of five years.
Explaining how the recipe changes were made, Mars Chocolat France said it kept the coating of its bars the same but changed the proportions of fat used in the nougat and caramel inside the bars.
The company said the key to this was switching wherever possible from palm oil, which is rich in saturated fatty acids, to sunflower oil, which is richer in unsaturated fatty acids.
Mars said the changes to the fat profile are the latest step on its ongoing pledge to improve the nutritional composition of its products. This has previously resulted in commitments to eradicate artificial colours and flavours, minimise trans fatty acids and introduce clear information on Daily Recommended Allowances and front of pack labelling.
When the fat changes in France were first announced, Thierry Gaillard, managing director of Mars Chocolat France, said: “It’s not about selling more products but about doing what's necessary: staying faithful to our commitment to improve the nutritional quality of our products wherever and whenever we can.”
Meanwhile, in the UK, the reformulation of the Mars chocolate bars comes after the Food Standards Agency (FSA) challenged food manufacturers in the spring to reduce the saturated fat content of chocolate confectionery by at least 10 per cent by the end of 2012.