We all need to wise up on treats

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Glenn Caton

Our businesses - which make some of the UK’s favourite confectionery - were set up to create treats in their truest sense: wonderful delights that bring joy to lives.

But we recognise that sometimes it can be difficult to establish chocolate, say, as an occasional treat. And it can be hard for parents and grandparents to get the right balance between head and heart, with so much conflicting information about what is right and wrong with treating. The fact remains that public health challenges, especially childhood obesity, are a significant problem in the UK.

All of society needs to work together to effectively address this challenge, from government to businesses to consumers. But we recognise the role the whole food & drink industry, including manufacturers, retailers and out of home, needs to play in tackling this. We’re proud of the action we’ve taken so far, reducing calories and introducing more options that encourage portion control. But there is more to do.

For example, in 2015, chocolate confectionery companies established a voluntary 250kcal cap on single-serve chocolates. And, as the public health agenda continues to develop, led by PHE, we too as a category are looking at how we can continue to work and evolve our approaches, both collectively and individually.

But it is a complex challenge and requires a multi-sector approach, with many factors at play. We all know that chocolate is meant to be a treat. And it’s important we keep it that way. That is why Mondelez, Ferrero UK and Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK have joined forces behind Be Treatwise, an initiative that aims to help families keep treats special.

Together we will work with parents, grandparents and experts to help the nation have a balanced approach to treats. We want to understand how we can help families keep treats as treats, with a panel of independent experts collaborating. They will help us identify possible solutions, with the aim of rolling out at least one consumer trial.

As part of this initiative, a redesigned Be Treatwise label will start to appear on the packaging of certain products and marketing from the three companies, reminding people that these products are treats intended for occasional enjoyment. The label was originally developed by Cadbury in 2006, with Ferrero UK and Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK now looking to adopt it. Other companies that offer treats with a portion size of 250kcal or less are welcome to join.

Consumers can find out more about the initiative at betreatwise.net, a newly created educational resource reviewed by a panel of independent nutritionists, offering practical advice on how treats can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle.

This collective action provides an important example for the wider food & drink industry. We all face these challenges and we have a collective responsibility to find and deliver solutions.

We don’t have all the answers yet. But at the heart of this is getting a better understanding of our relationship with treats. And it starts with remembering that treats are special.

Glenn Caton is president, Northern Europe, at Mondelez and a spokesperson for Be Treatwise

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