Exclusive: In your sugary shake, Mars may not be lovin’ it

Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:15pm EDT
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By Chris Prentice and Lisa Baertlein

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES - Mars Inc, the one-time maker of king-sized chocolate bars, is considering taking its M&Ms out of sugary dessert treats, including McDonald's McFlurry.

An industry source familiar with Mars' thinking said the company has had talks with the world's largest fast-food chain and other partners about its candies' inclusion in super sugary products.

The elimination of M&Ms - which contain 7.5 teaspoons of sugar, about a third as much as the large McFlurry, per serving - is just one idea on the table; also under consideration with McDonald's (MCD.N: Quote) and other partners, are recipe reformulations, the source said.

Mars is concerned desserts that feature its candies - such as the McFlurry, Burger King's Snickers pie and Dairy Queen's Blizzard - exceed in a single serving the amount of sugar the U.S. government recommends anyone eat in a day, the source said.

That kind of sugar load conflicts with Mars' public stance that sweets are best enjoyed in moderation.

The company has promised publicly to limit sugar in all of its products to match guidelines from the world's leading health authorities, including the World Health Organization and nutrition committees in the United States and United Kingdom.

A Mars spokesman declined to discuss details of any discussions with partners. But, in a statement to Reuters, the spokesman said, "We are now working alongside our suppliers and customers to bring this commitment to life."

That the world's largest confectioner is fretting about the inclusion of its marquee candy in popular fast-food concoctions is the latest reflection of how the sugar backlash is roiling the industry.   Continued...

Mars bars are seen in this picture illustration taken February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration