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Big Candy pledges to cut calories

By Aaron Smith

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The biggest candy companies in the world are forming a calorie-cutting consortium.

Mars, Inc., said its subsidiaries Mars Chocolate and Wrigley U.S. are teaming with other major industry players to package their products into smaller portions with fewer calories, and to label them more clearly.

The group includes Nestlé USA, Ferrero, which makes Nutella, Ferrara Candy, which makes Brachs, as well as Lindt, which owns the chocolate brands Ghirardelli and Russell Stover.

Mars said it's spending $200 million to make sure that half the individually packaged candies it sells will contain no more than 200 calories by 2022. The company said that some of its products -- including M&M's Caramel, which was launched last year -- already meet that standard.

The company is also teaming with an industry association to educate consumers that candy is "a treat, not an everyday snack or meal replacement."

Mars is collaborating with the Partnership for a Healthier America, the organization devoted to reducing childhood obesity where Michelle Obama serves as honorary chair.

The Hudson Institute, a think tank, will monitor Big Candy's progress on these commitments.

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