Mars putting principles in action

by Eric Schroeder
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MCLEAN, VA. — Quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom are the five principles guiding Mars, Inc.’s approach to business. Within those principles, the company is making strides in health and nutrition and the supply chain, according to the company’s third annual “Principles in action summary” released July 24.

On the health and nutrition front, Mars pointed to several areas of progress in 2012, even while noting more work remains to be done to achieve its goals.

The company said it has made “good progress” in rolling out Guideline Daily Amount (G.D.A.) nutritional labeling on the majority of its products. Mars said it missed its target of 100% labeling of its chocolate and confectionery products by year-end 2012, with only 90% of its products reaching the mark. The company now expects to achieve 100% G.D.A. labeling on its chocolate and confectionery products by the end of 2013. Across its broader food portfolio, 70% of Mars’ products carried the G.D.A. labeling at the end of 2012, a percentage that is expected to rise to more than 90% by the end of 2014, the company said.

Mars already has achieved its 2015 goal of 25% sodium reduction across its food portfolio from a 2007 baseline, and almost 70% of its products globally met regional voluntary commitments for sodium levels at the end of 2012.

“This figure rises to 100% in Europe and North America,” Mars said of its sodium reduction efforts. “In the U.K., Mars Food is proud to have achieved the Responsibility Deal 2012 salt targets set by the Department of Health. The overall amount of sodium present in our products has been reduced by 25% from a 2007 baseline, without compromising taste.”

A third health and nutrition goal set by Mars is to not ship any chocolate products that exceed 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013. The company said more than 99% of its products will meet the goal by the end of this year.

In describing its supply chain goals, Mars said its aim is to source more sustainably produced raw materials, boosting farmers’ incomes and creating mutual benefits for supplier communities.

“We have set targets to source 100% of several key raw materials using more sustainable approaches, most often through independent certification programs such as the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, Fairtrade International and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (R.S.P.O.),” Mars said. “These ambitious certification targets are based on what needs to be done to address the challenges facing agricultural supply chains, rather than simply what we believe is achievable in the short term.

“Certification programs are not the solution to every social and environmental problem found in supply chains, but they strive to verify that raw materials are sourced in a way that benefits producers, their communities, the environment and the industry.”

By the end of 2013, Mars expects 100% of its coffee to come from certified sources. At the end of 2011, 20% of its coffee was sourced this way, and at the end of 2012, 56% was from certified sources.
Meanwhile, Mars is halfway to its 2015 goal of 100% palm oil from certified sources.

“We expect to meet our target to purchase 100% of our palm oil from R.S.P.O.-certified sources two years ahead of our 2015 deadline,” the company said. “This is the result of sourcing through the organization’s ‘mass balance’ program. We believe this method is the most effective way of achieving sustainable supplies as it allows R.S.P.O.-certified palm oil to be gradually mixed with other sources, eliminating the complexity of maintaining two separate supplies.”

Mars has established a 2015 target for achieving 100% black tea from certified sources. Currently, the company is at 33%. Further down the road, Mars has set a goal of 100% cocoa from certified sources by 2020. The company is making steady progress to meet that goal, with 20% of its cocoa coming from certified sources at the end of 2012, up from 10% in 2011.

Brands are another area in which Mars is looking to stimulate consumer preference for its products. The company said it has implemented “Doing-good marketing” campaigns for two of its five global brands, including Uncle Ben’s “Begin with Ben” and the Pedigree Feeding Project.

Ben’s Beginners, sponsored by Uncle Ben’s, promotes the merits of families cooking and eating together. The campaign also shows how making rice the main ingredient of meals may lead to a healthy and varied diet, Mars said.

Mars said it plans to have similar campaigns in place for three other global brands by 2015. For the full report visit www.mars.com.

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