Mars has broken the silence of food and drink suppliers by warning the Government not to bring in plain tobacco packaging, newly revealed documents show.
Previously, non-tobacco suppliers have kept quiet on plans for Australia-style standardised tobacco packs, which are now being consulted on for the final time in the UK.
The report written by Mars’ (see pages 31-37) legal experts in 2012 states: “Mars is concerned that the introduction of mandatory plain packaging in the tobacco industry would also set a key precedent for the application of similar legislation to other industries, including the food and non-alcoholic beverage industries in which Mars operates.”
It also says that allowing plain packaging would impact on consumers’ health and safety because products like Mars, Maltesers and Bounty all have distinctive designs that help shoppers identify the products as high quality and safe.
In March 2012, Jeremy Blackburn, head of communications at tobacco supplier JTI, told Retail Express that the Government’s template for tobacco is now being used to “set the path ahead for other industries”.
A spokeswoman for Mars confirmed the company is not planning to respond to the current consultation on plain packaging for tobacco, which closes on August 7. Other leading soft drink and confectionery manufacturers did not wish to comment.
A Mars spokeswoman said: “The 2012 response was not a comment on the specific policy, we were highlighting the need to ensure any legislation did not have unintended knock-on effects on brand equity and intellectual property within other categories. We will not be responding to the current consultation.”