Masterfoods Launches Healthy Snacks in C-Stores

Rolls out CocaoVia products; Mars joins Clinton's healthy snack alliance

Published in CSP Daily News

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Masterfoods USA will begin selling CocoaVia Brand Heart Healthy Snacks in individual, single-serving units in convenience stores this fall, the company announced at the NACS Show in Las Vegas.

The move capitalizes on a growing interest in healthy snacks packaged individually and sold at c-stores, the company said.

CocoaVia snacks are formulated with ingredients that help lower bad cholesterol and promote healthy circulation while delivering chocolate flavor, it added.

Products include:[image-nocss]

CocoaVia Original Dark Chocolate Bars. These snacks, made with real chocolate, are a source of calcium, folic acid, vitamins B6, B12 and antioxidant vitamins C and E and are 90 to 100 calories per serving. CocoaVia Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. Roasted almonds in CocoaVia dark chocolate. CocoaVia Rich Chocolate Indulgence Drink. Sold in the refrigerated section, this drink tastes like a milkshake, but offers the same health benefits as other CocoaVia products.

CocoaVia Heart Healthy Snacks are currently sold in multi-packs at mass merchandisers, grocery stores, c-stores and other retail outlets around the country. The new singles items available at c-stores are a response to consumers' requests to buy the product in individual servings, the company said.

CocoaVia has sold well in multi-packs, but this is a great opportunity for us to reach consumers who are looking for healthier options on the go, said Jamie Mattikow, president of the Mars Nutrition for Health & Well-Being division. In CocoaVia, we've translated our company's vast scientific knowledge in the area of cocoa research into chocolate products that are formulated to promote heart health.

Meanwhile, Masterfoods' Mars Inc., in a move that demonstrates its commitment to health and nutrition, has announced its partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to offer healthier snack choices for sale in U.S. schools. Created by The Clinton Foundation, the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and led by former President Bill Clinton and Governor Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.), the alliance and food industry leaders have agreed to support specific guidelines for competitive foods offered in schools.

The U.S. business of Mars is one of only five food companies that are part of this initiative, the company said.

In order to help schools adopt these guidelines while still providing delicious treats for children, McLean, Va.-based Mars said that it will launch a new line of snacks to specifically meet the alliance's strict guidelines for calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and nutrients for children in elementary and secondary schools.

In 2005, Mars officially created its Nutrition for Health & Well-Being business unit to establish an all-new portfolio of health-focused brands to serve emerging needs among consumers. While some of the most recent products developed through years of collaborative research efforts have focused on adults, these new products will be specifically designed as healthier snacks for children.

Snacks sold in schools will have less fat, sugar and salt under the latest crackdown on junk food won by former President Clinton. Just five months after a similar agreement targeting the sale of sodas in schools, Clinton and the American Heart Association announced a deal Friday with several major food companies to make school snacks healthierthe latest assault on the nation's childhood obesity epidemic.

The agreement with Kraft Foods Inc., Mars Inc., Campbell Soup Co., Groupe Danone SA and PepsiCo Inc. sets guidelines for fat, sugar, sodium and calories for snack foods sold in school vending machines, stores and snack bars. Those companies make everything from M&M's, yogurt and granola bars to Frito-Lay potato chips, Snickers bars and canned soups.

Under the guidelines, most foods won't be permitted to derive more than 35% of their calories from fat and more than 10% from saturated fat. There will be a limit of 35% for sugar content by weight. An example of a snack that would be banned is a Snickers bar, which has 280 calories, 130 from fat. The candy bar has 30 grams of sugar out of 58.7 total grams.

Charles Nicolas, a spokesman for PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay and Quaker, said Frito-Lay already has products that meet the guidelines, such as baked potato chips and reduced-sugar chewy bars. We're going to change a few recipes so that more snacks meet those guidelines as well, he said.

Kraft said in a statement that it would add the sodium and calorie caps to its nutrition guidelines and extend these guidelines to include all of our competitive foods sold in schools.

The William J. Clinton Foundation teamed up with the heart association to form the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in 2005. The alliance was formed to combat childhood obesity, which has been blamed for an increase in early-onset diabetes and other ills. In May, the alliance announced an agreement with beverage industry leaders to sell only water, unsweetened juice and low-fat and nonfat milk in elementary and middle schools. Diet sodas and sports drinks are still being sold in high schools.

Officials said that agreement covered 87% of the soft drink market in public and private schools.

Bob Harrison, executive director of the alliance, said the snack-food industry is not as concentrated as the beverage industry, so the reach of this agreement will not be as wide as the earlier one. But he said the five companies participating in the new agreement are market leaders and their influence will be felt.

In other company news, Masterfoods USA is showcasing its newest products at the NACS Show this week, including:

Twix Triple Chocolate: A combination of chocolate cookie and chocolate flavored caramel, covered in milk chocolate, which will be available in c-stores in January 2007 for a limited time. Skittles Carnival: Bite-size candies, available for a limited time only in 2007, in new carnival flavors including Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, Candy Apple, Red Licorice and Green Slushy. Starburst Retro: Starburst Fruit Chews with a groovy pop-culture twist. Available for a limited time only in 2007, infruit flavors with old-school appeal like Disco Berry and Hey Mango-rena. Snickers Nut Mix: A limited product offering two varieties of nuts. Peanut Butter Nut Mix has roasted salted peanuts, chocolate covered peanuts and peanut butter chips; Caramel Nut Mix has roasted salted peanuts, chocolate covered peanuts and caramel chews. Combos Zesty Tortilla Salsa. Tapping into the popularity of salsa, these new Combos combine the tastes of chips and salsa in one snack.

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