The natural sugar in the dried cranberry, apple, peach and cherry pieces in the three varieties of snack bars helps offset the need for as much added sugar, which world health authorities recommend be limited to no more than 10% of total calories.
Mars supports this recommendation and the U.S. Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee’s suggestion that added sugar be labeled on the Nutrition Facts panel as a subset of total sugar, said Mary Myers, director of product development at Mars Chocolate North America.
She explained that Mars wants to be part of the solution in helping consumers achieve a healthy, balanced diet, and one way the company can do that is through transparent labeling of added sugar, which includes syrups and sugars added to products to improve sweetness, structure and shelf life. Natural sugars, such as those in fruit, are not considered added sugar.
“Our products are meant to be treats. They are not meant to be meal replacements. So we have to earn the right to be part of the diet, and in order to do that we have to show transparency and give the consumer options” through portion sizes, calorie amounts and “a great variety of flavors,” Myers said.
Goodnessknows snack squares, which will launch nationally in August, meet all of these requirements and, like all Mars products, can be enjoyed without exceeding the cap on the recommended added sugar, she said.
In addition to limiting total sugars to 12 grams per serving, goodnessknows snack bars help consumers control their portions by coming pre-divided into four two-bite sized pieces. Each piece has less than 40 calories and creates a natural “moment of pause” when consumers can consider whether they want to eat another square, said Carolyn O’Neil, a registered dietitian and food journalist.
Both women spoke at a launch event for the snack squares at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.
The bars also include oats, almonds and peanuts in addition to the fruit pieces – all of which are visible on a thin layer of dark chocolate. By making the individual ingredients visible, the bar suggests to consumers it is a healthier snack. It also recalls the wildly successful Kind Bars, which have a tag line “ingredients you can see and pronounce,” noted Euromonitor analyst Jared Koerten.
“These sorts of snack bars have seen a ton of growth, and I think Mars sees some potential” to tap into that category’s growth with the snack squares, he said, adding the launch is a “a huge move” for Mars.
Indeed, Mars notes that the goodnessknows brand “is already a hit.” It explains that the snack squares launched in Denver and Boulder, Colo., in 2010 and then expanded to Portland, Ore., and Seattle in 2012 – during which time the purchase repeat sales reached 41% -- far outpacing benchmarks.
The company also see goodnessknows as a way to reach into the food bar market, which had $7.3 billion in sale and growth of 8% year-over-year, according to Packaged Facts data.
Mars also anticipates goodnessknows will help grow the “chocolate for snacking” category, by pairing indulgent chocolate with feel-good ingredients, such as dried fruit, it says.