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Chocolate Industry Leaders Sign Agreement, Align on Path Towards Increasing Consumer Availability & Consistency of Beneficial Cocoa Flavanols

Monday, February 15, 2010 General News J E 4
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Cooperation expected to yield a standard for active natural cocoa compounds

MCLEAN, Va. and ZURICH, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The unique and good-for-you cocoa flavanols – the natural compounds found in the cocoa fruit linked to important circulatory and other health benefits – will soon be easier to identify and obtain when making nutrition choices. Mars, Incorporated and Barry Callebaut AG recently signed a cross-licensing and cooperation agreement that is expected to increase the availability and uniformity of cocoa flavanol-rich chocolate products worldwide. The agreement between these global chocolate leaders is seen as the beginning of a path leading to consistent standards for beneficial cocoa flavanol products.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100215/AQ53183LOGO-a )

(Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100215/AQ53183-b )

Decades of research suggest cocoa flavanols can have a positive impact on circulatory health and related conditions, but manufacturers have struggled with consistency, reliable measurement methods and communication of the flavanol benefits and content of foods. Mars, the world's largest retail chocolate manufacturer, selling seven of the world's 20 best selling chocolate snacks, with its pioneering scientific know-how in flavanol analytics, preservation and health benefits, is partnering with Barry Callebaut AG, the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products for the entire food industry, to progress towards creating a commonly used standard for measuring useful flavanols in foods, broadening acceptance and availability of flavanol-containing products with guaranteed flavanol content. Cocoa flavanol containing products can be a part of a healthy diet. But simply having a higher percent cacao, being a "darker" chocolate, or claiming antioxidants as the main benefit of cocoa, misses the point and demonstrates the need for a means to measure and indicate adequate levels of flavanols consistent with recent scientific studies.

"While flavanols are naturally abundant in cocoa, unless you are specifically measuring and carefully handling a product throughout the manufacturing process, there is just no guarantee the product contains meaningful levels of the flavanols," said Mary Wagner, General Manager at Mars Botanical, a scientific unit of Mars, Incorporated dedicated to flavanol research and product development, and which recently launched CirkuHealth™ in the United States, a cocoa extract based dietary supplement. "For nearly two decades, we've been studying the process of measuring and maximizing the retention of cocoa flavanols and uncovering their related health benefits, resulting in over 100 scientific publications and a broad patent portfolio. Over the last five years we have also sold products like CocoaVia®, and continue to sell Dove® Rich Dark Chocolate, both high in flavanol content. This agreement with Barry Callebaut will now guarantee reliable flavanol levels in more cocoa and chocolate products around the globe."

Beginning February 2010, Barry Callebaut AG began licensing Mars patents and will display the Mars Cocoapro® "bean in hand" logo on its Acticoa® products in the US and other markets with an assured consistently high level of cocoa flavanol content. "Acticoa® chocolate has been on the European market for nearly five years and this new cooperation will allow us to even better serve our customers worldwide, in particular also in the US. This agreement is an important step in making chocolate alternatives with clear flavanol levels available to a much broader audience, around the world. We're excited to embark on this journey with Mars, Incorporated," said Hans P. Vriens, Chief Innovation Officer at Barry Callebaut. "Based on years of our own clinical studies, we know cocoa flavanols offer a potentially substantial health benefit, and we know consumers are increasingly seeking healthier products that offer added value. We can all gain through a consistent method to assure consumers that we're delivering these important compounds in our products, and through an aligned way in which we communicate these levels."

Both companies have agreed to cooperate in promoting flavanol rich chocolate products with a guaranteed level of flavanols inside. Over the next few months, both companies will be updating their science and marketing communications as well as their websites to reflect the implications of this new cooperation.

MARS, INCORPORATED (www.mars.com)

Mars, Incorporated is a private, family-owned company founded in 1911 and employing over 65,000 associates at more than 230 sites, including 135 factories, in 68 countries worldwide. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, U.S.A., Mars, Incorporated is one of the world's largest food companies, generating global revenues of more than $28 billion annually and operating in six business segments: Chocolate, Petcare, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, and Symbioscience. These segments produce some of the world's leading brands: Chocolate – M&M'S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, MARS®, MILKY WAY® and TWIX®; Petcare – PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, SHEBA®, CESAR®, and ROYAL CANIN®; Wrigley – ORBIT®, EXTRA®, STARBURST®, DOUBLEMINT® and SKITTLES®; Food – UNCLE BEN'S®, DOLMIO®, EBLY®, MASTERFOODS® and SEEDS OF CHANGE®; Drinks – KLIX® and FLAVIA®; Symbioscience – WISDOM PANEL™, SERAMIS®, CIRKUHEALTH™ and COCOAPRO™.

Barry Callebaut AG (www.barry-callebaut.com)

With annual sales of about CHF 4.9 billion for fiscal year 2008/09, Zurich-based Barry Callebaut is the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate – from the cocoa bean to the finished product on the store shelf. Barry Callebaut is present in 26 countries, operates about 40 production facilities and employs about 7,500 people. The company serves the entire food industry, from food manufacturers to professional users of chocolate (such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs or bakers), to global retailers. Barry Callebaut is the global leader in cocoa and chocolate innovations and provides a comprehensive range of services in the fields of product development, processing, training and marketing. The company is actively engaged in initiatives and projects that contribute to a more sustainable cocoa supply chain.

SOURCE Mars, Incorporated

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