Masterfoods switched from a vegetarian rennet substitute to natural rennet in its products on May 1, 2007. All their chocolate products including Mars Bars, Bounty, Snickers, Twix and Minstrels which have the “best before date” of after 1 October 2007 are no longer suitable for vegetarians. This also affects many Muslims, Jews and people of other religions or organisations who do not eat meat which have not been slaughtered in a certain way, as well as Hindus. Read more at bbc website.
So what is this “Rennet“? It is a natural complex of enzymes produced in any mammalian stomach to digest the mother’s milk. Rennet contains a proteolytic enzyme (protease) that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). Worldwide there is also no industrial production for vegetable rennet; the previous ingredient for Mars products.
The primary motivation behind this move is cost optimization for the confectionary giant. Though production of animal rennet is expensive however the yielf of animal rennet is far greater than vegetable rennet i.e. 1:15,000 (1 kg of rennet would have the ability to coagulate 15,000 litres of milk). About losing the sensitive market, well, for now the net result is still highly increased profit margin and the over-whelming sales share goes to the non-sensitive segemnt i.e. the Europe and Americas. Even within the sensitive segment, due to the skimming focus of the product i.e. costing Rs.35/bar in Pakistan, the relevant segment is by majority de-sensitised (westernized!) to the strictest concept of HALAL. Especially when it is something invisible and a very small component of the product. Therefore reduced losses in the sensitive segment as well. As far as vegetarians are concerned they were never in majority and are not increasing competitively. Foremost! Chocolate is a Sin and Sinners shall Sin!
I say a darn “sinful” (read Wise) business strategy!