Are calorie-conscious candy companies too good to be true?

The increasing focus on healthy eating across the world is hard to ignore. In the US, the prevalence of obesity is increasing every year. As a result, for the past couple of years there has been a major drive to reduce sugar consumption and bring awareness to the health benefits from cutting back. Candy companies are reducing the sugar in their products, encouraging consumers to become more health conscious. However, we have to question whether health is the driving force behind this move, or whether candy companies are using it to their advantage.

In recent years, people have become more skeptical over big food companies and products with long-lasting shelf life, and what that means in terms of health.

Leading brands are becoming less and less popular: in an analysis it was found that the top 25 US food and beverage companies had lost an equivalent of $18 billion between 2009 and 2014 to smaller companies according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group and IRI.

In an attempt to meet the demands of the public, bigger brands have begun to buy out smaller companies, which offer healthier options. The popularity of sugar and processed food has been replaced with huge demands for avocado and quinoa, while organic food sales have more than tripled from 2005-2015. From this data, it makes sense for candy companies to shift their focus, from creating indulgent products, to increasing awareness of the population’s well-being through more calorie-conscious options.

A group of companies including Mars, Nestle and Lindt made an announcement in 2016 that new initiatives are being made that are meant to encourage consumers to consume less sugar. This may seem dubious, however they insist that this is simply due to not wanting to be part of the problem any more.

Mars have made numerous steps to encourage customers to cut down on sugar, being the first confectionery company to end marketing which focuses on children, putting calories on the front of packets, and altering language on packaging to encourage sharing rather than the indulgent ‘King Size’ advertisements we are used to.

Moreover, Mars have also promised to attempt to educate consumers to see candy as an occasional treat rather than a healthy snack or meal replacement.

However, there is still the question of whether this change is more for their own gain rather than the public’s. It seems that while these companies are presenting their changes as contributory to the public good, they are decreasing the portions while selling it at the same price.

As well as calories being easier to read, by 2022 half of the candy sold in shops by these big name brands will be 200 calories or less, but perhaps to the detriment of our pockets.

Saying this, it is undeniable that whatever the reason, an awareness and reduction of sugar intake is highly important in this day in age where there is such a prevalent risk of obesity. Nearly one in ten children are beginning school in the UK obese, while 70.2 per cent of US citizens are considered to be overweight or obese. With this kind of problem, even if we are getting less for our money, the fact that candy companies are bringing health to the forefront of people’s minds has to be treated as a positive.

Image: Ann-Katherine Muller

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