M&Ms The Sequel. This Time it’s Personal!

May 22, 2012 at 10:40 am 6 comments

Today I will be asking you to comment, not about a donation to charity as is my normal plea. Today I would like your opinion on the contents of this post. This is a follow-on from my previous post on M&Ms, link to the post here; I also include a brief summary below.

I wanted to follow up for one reason, the reply I received from Master Foods USA, the manufacturer. I quote the reply in full below:-


“Dear Ms. Miller,

In response to your email regarding M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.

Thank you for your email.

We’re pleased to hear you enjoy our M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES and appreciate your taking the time to tell us so. Your comments will be shared with our Marketing Associates.

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America”


Hmmmmmmmmm. I think they missed the point? Was I too reticent in my original post? I try to be balanced and perhaps that dilutes my message. In that case, let me be more clear….

Although there are no untruths in the packaging of a ‘Big Bag’ of Peanut M&Ms they are being sleekit. Definition – smooth in manner, plausible, sly, cunning – the perfect word in this case.

Summarising the sleekitness, the ‘Big Bag’ shows a portion of M&Ms to be 45g and 232 calories as per the front of the bag.

This is normal, calories and percentages clearly stated on the packet. HOWEVER, the packet was not one ‘portion’ of 45 g, it was 70 g. The second picture below shows the reverse of the packet:-

At no point is there a clear statement of the number of calories in the bag. If you had a quick look you assume there are 232 and not approx 360 calories in the bag. In my opinion this is deliberately done and that is wrong. We talk a lot nowadays about transparency, we talk about openness. We also talk about value for money during these lean times. We talk about understanding what we eat and teaching our children to eat healthily, balancing all food groups with the occasional treat.

I believe that this kind of labelling goes against all of this. It is not open or transparent, I think it is an attempt to sell more candies by letting people think they are consuming less calories than the bag contains. I wonder why food manufacturers do this? I know we live our lives in a rush, everything is grab and go so that we can get on to the next thing. Why would anyone want to take advantage of this?

I would ask all manufacturers and retailers to do the following:-

  • Label clearly. If you are going to have a calorie count on the front of the bag then make this the amount of calories in the bag. If it is a family-sized bag then by all means state calories per portion but state clearly how many portions are in the bag and/or the number of sweets in a portion
  • Stop trying to hide price rises by making the product smaller and charging the same price. Prices are going up, this is not palatable for any of us. However, I feel more cheated when I know a manufacturer has reduced the packet size and charges the same price, when I know my crisps or chocolate bar has got smaller. Why not provide both? You are investing in different packing and this has a cost; why not have both and let the consumer make their own choice.
  • Stop trying to play games with your customers. Do not have a display showing ‘Big value pack – Four Tins for £2.20’ when you have single tins for £0.52 just underneath
  • If you are going to have a BOGOF (buy one get one free) then ensure that if it is fresh foods than it can either be frozen or has a long sellby date. Let the BOGOF be good value, not an excuse to get the shelves cleared
  • Stop rearranging the shelves to disrupt customers’ routines. You say it allows people to see foods they wouldn’t normally notice, I say you are trying to get more product shifted through impulse buys.
  • Remove the sweets from the checkout – this one has been irking parents and the weak-willed like myself for decades.
  • When a customer takes some of their time to provide feedback do not take the compliments and ignore anything that could be perceived as criticism. I was quite gobsmacked at the reply from Mars. Yes, I said how much I loved M&Ms but surely my use of the phrase ‘sleight of hand’ could have been at least acknowledged? Sending my feedback to the Marketing Associates does not make me feel that my comments will be given any consideration, let alone serious consideration.
So, today I ask you to comment on this blog to tell me how you feel food manufacturers and retailers get up your nose. Do you agree with me? If so please let me know, if not then please let me know. If there are other bug-bears that I have missed please let me know. I want to have comments attached to this post so that I can send this on to the Mars Company and see if they have any further comment to make….

Thank you for reading.



Entry filed under: Children, Donating, Education, Food, Food Retailers, Giving, Life, M&Ms, Sweets, wheniwas8. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

I’m not picking on M&Ms, I still love them but…… Tears and Smiles….

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ladymaryan  |  May 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Lesley,

    I can only agree. I believe that the information on the packages is sometimes deliberately misleading, particularly when the size is reduced for the same price.

    Basically you can only accept it or stop buying the items in question. It is an overall problem, not only with sweets, but unfortunately also with baby nutrition, which is particularly annoying because the mothers think they buy something healthy and it’s not.

    Thank you for bringing this up.

    Claudia x

    • 2. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  May 24, 2012 at 8:45 am


      You make an excellent point. The flashy packaging that shouts ‘healthy’ but when you look at the sugar and salt contents it is anything but….

      Another one for my list.

      I hope all is well.

      Lesley x

  • 3. Bob  |  May 22, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    by some outsource customer response department. You would need to get a fairly high level of media attention before anyone in even remotely high in the corporate PR food chain paid any personal attention.
    The only way to deal with these manufacturer/retailer slights of hand is to adjust your purchasing decisions. It’s like voting in politics – if enough people do it, it has the desired effect!
    Sorry about the split post – doing it on my phone so I probably hit the wrong button.

  • 4. Bob  |  May 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Hi Lesley,
    The reply from the food company is absolutely on target for corporate communications – it’s superficially polite but deliberately misses the point of any complaint, seeking to get you on their side by thanking you for your interest in their corporation. It will have been written by the lowest grade of customer service rep and my even be done by some outsourced customer response

    • 5. when i was 8 i wanted to be....  |  May 22, 2012 at 1:24 pm


      And isn’t that one of the saddest things? These Companies ask for our feedback but they really don’t want it unless it is a positive…..

      Thank you for writing to me:)

      Lesley x

      • 6. Bob  |  May 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        Sorry about the break in my post – wrong button I think. X

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