Mars convinces consumers in emerging markets to eat more chocolate

Mars has embarked on a campaign to convince consumers in developing countries to eat more chocolate, saying it is on track to double the value of its confectionery sales in emerging markets by 2024.

The world’s biggest confectioner has developed local products like a Snickers bacon in Brazil as it seeks to increase the amount of chocolate consumed by consumers in less wealthy countries closer to the European average of 7kg a year.

Blas Maquivar, head of global emerging markets at Mars Wrigley, the company’s snacks division, said the comparable figure in emerging markets is just 500g, with people in Kenya and Nigeria eating just 200g on average.

“The amount of chocolate that an Indian or a Mexican consumes is 10 times or less than a European,” he said. “So there is a gigantic opportunity to get that low. . . per capita consumption closer to Europe.

The privately held US company – whose brands also include M&M’s and Maltesers – created an emerging markets division within its snacks business in 2019.

Maquivar said Mars sees developing markets as a critical growth opportunity for the confectionery and has set a goal of doubling the size of the division by net sales value within five years.

So far, around three-quarters of that growth has come from convincing people to eat more sweets, rather than taking market share from rivals, he added.

Increasing chocolate sales in developed markets “is very complex. . . If you go to 10 stores, you will find chocolate in 10 stores. . . [but] if you go to mexico, 10 mom and pop stores. . . you won’t find chocolate in five of them. You see the same in India,” Maquivar said.

Mars has increased its advertising by around 30% per year and is developing products tailored to local markets

Therefore, March increased its presence in these small independent stores in its crucial emerging markets – Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Philippines, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, India and South Korea – from 40% to around 60% cent, says -he. China is managed as a separate division.

The strategy also included increasing advertising by around 30% per year and developing products tailored to local markets. These include the “caramelo and bacon” Snickers launched in Brazil six months ago and the pistachio, saffron and almond Snickers in India.

Mars’ largest division is pet food and services, but it’s also the world’s largest confectionery maker, with 12.4% of the global market, according to Euromonitor. March rarely reveals financial data but this year said it had reached nearly $45 billion in annual sales. Emerging markets confectionery is about $2.5 billion.

However, with obesity rising on the global health agenda, growth in the overall confectionery market has been slow: global sales have grown at an average rate of less than 1% per year over the past past 10 years, according to Euromonitor.

Asked about the health impact of Mars’ efforts to increase chocolate consumption, Maquivar said, “We recognize that not only after Covid but before Covid, there was this megatrend in health and wellness.”

He added: “To continue to be an extremely successful snacking company, we need to evolve our portfolio. . . and provide choices.

The company bought Kind, a maker of nut snack bars, in 2020 in a deal valuing the group at $5 billion. That year, Kind acquired another “healthy” snack bar maker, Nature’s Kitchen, for $400 million.

These brands are present in emerging markets, with Kind products on sale in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and some Asian countries. Maquivar also noted that Mars does not sell to children under 12 following a 2007 pledge.

As inflation drives up the cost of living around the world, Maquivar said the group is taking steps to support sales.

While raising prices, it also makes more bars such as Snickers and Galaxy available in smaller versions for those on a tight budget.

“If you go to India, you go to Mexico right now, you’ll see new offers [from] we who play at the lowest price that did not exist [before],” he said.

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