retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Okay, here's one I didn't see coming.

The BBC reports that Mars Food, described as "the company behind Dolmio and Uncle Ben's sauces," is saying that it will begin distinguishing its products as being for either everyday or occasional consumption, and will say both on packaging and on its website which of its products "should only be consumed once a week due to high salt, sugar or fat content."

The story says that in some foods, higher salt, sugar or fat content is necessary to maintain taste, but that consumers should be careful not to overindulge.

There is a sense in the reporting that Mars is trying to get ahead of the wave, raising awareness about certain nutritional realities before the government forces it to, and in accordance with increasing consumer preferences.

This sort of reminds me of the campaign that Patagonia launched a few years ago, urging its customers to "buy less" as a way of addressing the problem of conspicuous and environmentally irresponsible consumption. That campaign resulted in Patagonia sales going up almost 38 percent ... and prompted the company to begin accepting used clothes at its stores, which it reconditioned and sold as "better than new."

I'm pretty sure that Mars Food won't begin selling used sauces; that would be a bridge too far. But the company clearly believes that an act of social consciousness will serve it better in the long run, and that the environment is right for a food company to say "eat less of our stuff."

Go figure. it is an Eye-Opener.
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