Mars Food UK - reformulation case studies

“At Mars Food UK we are proud of the progress we have made to reduce levels of salt in the diet. While delivering the great taste that our consumers expect of our brands, we are continuing to invest significant resources in our health and nutrition programme to meet the demands of our consumers and deliver products that contribute to a healthy, enjoyable and balanced lifestyle”

Rob Hughes, Managing Director, Mars Food UK


  • An intensive reformulation programme began in 2007.
  • To date a reduction of up to 35% in salt has been achieved across Dolmio, Uncle Ben's and Seeds of Change sauces.
  • A key challenge was to manage a complex project of reformulation and labelling changes, while ensuring information provided was clear and easy to navigate.
  • All reformulated recipes have to pass 'taste tests' by a panel of experts before receiving sign off.
  • Above and beyond implementation costs, £10m has been invested in consumer communications to support the integrity of the food portfolio.

Mars Food UK has had great success with its health and nutrition programme, which aims to improve the nutritional content of its products whilst maintaining the great taste that consumers expect.

Dolmio Lasagne sauceA commitment to continual review of the portfolio ensures the delivery of products that contribute to a healthy, enjoyable and balanced lifestyle. The commitment is exemplified in progress made in reducing salt levels in sauces and rice whilst ensuring no compromise on taste.

An intensive programme was initiated in January 2007 involving a combined team – from science and nutrition, product development and marketing – with the aim of achieving the guideline targets for salt reduction set by the Food Standards Agency across the portfolio.

With more than 100 recipes across three brands, it was a huge challenge to manage a programme of recipe reformulation aligned with a programme of label changes. In order to ensure there was no compromise on taste, all reformulated recipes were 'taste tested' by an expert panel before quantitative research was carried out and final sign-off given by the marketing team.

To date, Mars Food UK has achieved a salt reduction of up to 35% across Dolmio, Uncle Ben's and Seeds of Change sauces. Over the past two years, more than £10 million has been invested in consumer communications to support the integrity of the portfolio.

Ultimately for Mars, this work is an ongoing commitment to consumers, rather than a one-off project. Continuous improvement programmes are in place to overcome remaining technological challenges and provide consumers with the recipes they trust.

All of Mars' food products are free from artificial colours and flavours and, as a leading food manufacturer the company is committed to providing nutritional information to help consumers make informed choices. This includes clear nutrition signposting using Guideline Daily Amounts on the front of pack.

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Last reviewed: 06 Jul 2009