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Mars, Incorporated

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Mars is an American global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products and a provider of animal care services, with US$33 billion in annual sales in 2015,[1] and is ranked as the 6th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes.[2] Headquartered in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, US,[3][4] the company is entirely owned by the Mars family. Mars operates in six business segments around the world: Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (Chicago, Illinois), Chocolate (Hackettstown, New Jersey; to be integrated with Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and based in Chicago, Illinois from 2017[5]), Petcare (Brussels, Belgium, Poncitlán and Jalisco, Mexico), Food (Rancho Dominguez, California), Drinks (West Chester, Pennsylvania), and Symbioscience (Germantown, Maryland), the company's life sciences division.[6][7]


Mars is a company known for the confectionery items that it creates,[8] such as Mars bars, Milky Way bars, M&M's, Skittles, Snickers, and Twix. They also produce non-confectionery snacks, such as Combos, and other foods, including Uncle Ben's Rice and pasta sauce brand Dolmio, as well as pet foods, such as Pedigree and Whiskas brands.[9]

Orbit gum is among the most popular brands, managed by the Mars subsidiary brand Wrigley. During World War II, Wrigley was selling their eponymous gum only to soldiers, while Orbit was sold to the public. Though abandoned shortly after the war, about 30 years later Orbit made a comeback in America during the chewing gum craze.[10]

Franklin Clarence Mars, whose mother taught him to hand dip candy, sold candy by age 19.[11] He started the Mars Candy Factory in 1911 with Ethel V. Mars, his second wife, in Newark, NJ.[11] This factory produced and sold fresh candy wholesale,[11] but ultimately the venture failed.[12][13] By 1920, Mars had returned to his home state, Minnesota, where the earliest incarnation of the present day Mars company was founded that year as Mar-O-Bar Co., in Minneapolis[14] and later incorporated there as Mars, Incorporated.[11] Forrest Mars, Sr., son of Frank and his first wife, Veronica,[11] was inspired by a popular type of milkshake[15] in 1923, to introduce the Milky Way bar, advertised as a "chocolate malted milk in a candy bar",[16] which became the best-selling candy bar.[14] In 1929, Frank moved the company to Bakersfield, California and started full production in a plant which still exists today.[17] In 1930, Frank Mars created the Snickers Bar and first sold it in US markets.[18] In 1932, Mars introduced the 3 Musketeers bar. The same year, Forrest started Mars Limited in the United Kingdom and launched the Mars bar.

Mars is still a family business owned by the Mars family. The company is famous for its secrecy. A 1993 Washington Post Magazine article was a rare raising of the veil, as the reporter was able to see the "M"s being applied to the M&M's, something that "no out-sider had ever before been invited to observe."[19] In 1999, for example, the company did not acknowledge that Forrest Mars, Sr. had died or that he had worked for the company.[20]

The company published its Principles in Action communication in September 2011. This communication outlines the history of Mars, its legacy as a business committed to its Five Principles, and the company’s goal of putting its Principles into action to make a difference to people and the planet through performance. Encompassing themes of Health and Nutrition, Supply Chain, Operations, Products, and Working at Mars, the Principles in Action communication outlines Mars Incorporated’s targets, progress, and ongoing challenges. It also describes its businesses, including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience.[21]

Mars, Incorporated has developed a reputation across its leading markets to be an excellent training ground for managers. In the United Kingdom, for instance, many CEOs of large companies learned their trade at Mars, Inc., including former Mars executives Allan Leighton, the former appointed CEO of the supermarket chain Asda and then the British postal service Royal Mail, and Justin King, former CEO of the retailer Sainsbury's. Recently, the company caught on to that and re-branded their employer brand "Mars — The Ultimate Business School".[22]

In the United States, the company has 20 manufacturing facilities in Hackettstown, New Jersey; Albany, Georgia; Burr Ridge, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; and Mattoon, Illinois; Cleveland, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Greenville, Mississippi; Greenville and Waco, Texas; Henderson and Reno, Nevada; Fort Smith, Arkansas; Joplin, Missouri; Miami, Oklahoma; and Galena, Kansas. Their newest facility is situated in Topeka, Kansas. Their Canadian facilities are located in Bolton and Newmarket, Ontario.[23]

Mars Food UK Limited[edit]

Mars Food UK Limited is the name of the British branch of Mars, Inc. The company is based in Slough, UK. Mars brands manufactured for the UK market but not for the US include Tunes.[citation needed]

In 1932, Forrest Mars, Sr., opened what was then Mars (Europe) headquarters, and remains Mars (UK) headquarters in Slough, Berkshire[20] on the then-new Slough Trading Estate, after a disagreement with his father, Franklin Clarence Mars. In this factory, he produced the first Mars bar, based on the American Milky Way.[24]

Many brands first created and sold in Britain were later introduced in the U.S., including Starburst (original UK brand name Opal Fruits) and Skittles. The brands Twix, and Topic were UK based.[citation needed]

Milky Way in Europe and worldwide is known as the 3 Musketeers in America. Similarly, the Snickers bar was previously marketed in Ireland and the United Kingdom as Marathon until 1990; in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, also until 1990; Galaxy in the Middle East is known as Dove in America and worldwide; and Starburst was known in the UK and Ireland as Opal Fruits until 1998. Chocolate and peanut M&M's were introduced in 1990.[citation needed]

Mars Drinks UK[edit]

Mars Drinks UK, the beverages division of Mars Limited, operates from Basingstoke in Hampshire and specializes in office vending machines. Mars Drinks UK comprises the FLAVIA and KLIX brands which offer branded drinks such as the Starburst Orange Drink, the Maltesers Hot Chocolate and the Galaxy drinks.[citation needed]

Mars Drinks also produces coffee and the equipment used to make it. In 1982 FLAVIA was created out of the high demand for coffee in the United Kingdom. Initially marketed as Dimension 3 until 1989, FLAVIA was introduced in France and Germany in 1986 and Japan in 1992 then brought to the United States in 1996 and to Canada in 1997. Other products such as cappuccino were introduced in 2002 and tea in 2004.[25]

Recent history[edit]

Mars' purchase of Doane Petcare Company in June 2007 significantly increased Mars' position in the U.S. dry pet food category. In addition to these businesses, Mars also operates a chain of premium chocolate shops called Ethel M Chocolates. These shops are an outgrowth of the Ethel M premium chocolate business that Forrest Mars started in Las Vegas in 1980, when he became bored with retirement.[26]

On April 28, 2008, Mars, Incorporated, together with Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated, announced the buyout of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, the world's largest chewing gum producer, for $23 billion in an all-cash deal. The two companies together generate sales in excess of $30 billion.[27]

The company spent more than $1.8 million on lobbying during 2008, almost all of it at Patton Boggs, where it has long been one of the largest lobbying clients. Mars also spent $10,000 at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. In 2009, Mars also hired Ernst & Young to lobby on corporate and international tax issues, including issues related to tax changes proposed by the Obama administration. The company spent another $1,655,000 that year.[28]

In 2014, Mars opened a new $270 million chocolate plant in Topeka, Kansas, the first new plant in the USA in 35 years.[29]

Mars Petcare[edit]

In February 2003, Mars acquired Aquarium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.[30] (API, incorporated in 1964) and in 2007 it was renamed Mars Fishcare, Inc. The company manufactures and supplies home aquarium and pond products.[31] Mars Fishcare brands include:[32] Aquarium Pharmaceuticals (API),[33] RENA,[34] AQUARIAN,[35] and PondCare.[36]

In Australia, the division operates three sites that are located in Wodonga, Victoria (established in 1967 for manufacture of wet pet food); Bathurst, New South Wales (established in the 1980s for manufacture of dry pet food); and Brisbane, Queensland (for manufacture of birdcare products).[37]

In January 2017, Mars announced the USD$7.7 billion acquisition of Los Angeles-based animal hospital chain VCA Inc.[38]

Mars manufacters the 'Trill" birdseed range.[39]


The two factories in Slough were located on Liverpool Road and Dundee Road; the one on Liverpool Road closed in 2007, with Twix production moving to the Netherlands and Starburst production moving to the Czech Republic.[40]

In 1963 a large factory was opened in Veghel in the Netherlands. This factory has currently the biggest production volume of Mars factories and is even one of the biggest chocolate factories in the world.[41] Most confectionery products for Europe are produced in Slough and Veghel.

The major production plant for Mars confectionery products in Australia is in Ballarat, Victoria.[42]

There is one factory outside of Hershey, Pennsylvania. It is located in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.[43]

Consumer relations[edit]

Opposition to labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in California[edit]

Throughout 2012, Mars contributed $376,650 to a $46 million political campaign known as "The Coalition Against The Costly Food Labeling Proposition, sponsored by Farmers and Food Producers".[44] This organization was set up to oppose "Proposition 37", demanding mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Removal of artificial ingredients to food portfolio[edit]

In February 2016, Mars stated that it would no longer be using artificial colors in each of its candy products. The company announced that more than 50 of its products would be affected in commitment effort to align with the changing preferences of consumers. The company along with more than 12 others has recently pledged to remove colors of an artificial nature from its products. While it has been said that the use of artificial colors in candy, and other products sold in the marketplace do not pose a threat to human health outright, the use of natural ingredients has grown substantially by the consumers that are purchasing in the marketplace. The company's CEO, Grant F. Reid, stated that "eliminating all artificial colors from the food portfolio is a massive undertaking and one that will take time and hard work to accomplish." The company wanted to assure consumers that the fun and vibrancy that has remained a staple of the brand for years, will not be altered in terms of colors or overall flavor. The company has anticipated that the new ingredient changes will take up to 5 years, with different formulations existing in various markets within that time frame, before the process is perfected. The company was not the first to recently announce that it would be changing the use of artificial flavors in its products. In 2015, food giant, General Mills proposed an initiative that noted that all of the artificial ingredients it was using in its products would be dropped by 2017. This meant a reformulation of many of the cereals, with alternatives that were more suitable to the palates of humans. A key aspect in that proposed initiative was that the cereal, Trix, would no longer have the blue and green colors forming a new iteration of the cereal.[45]

In a press release on the removal of the food dyes, the company wrote that "replacing artificial colors across all our products is a complex task. We expect it will take about five years to develop the full range of alternatives that guarantee the integrity and great taste of the products you know and love, and to go through the process of obtaining regulatory approval for all new ingredients in development.” Mars has frequently used dyes and artificial colors in many of its products over the years. Due to public outcry calling for change, and a petition that gained more than 217,000 signatures that was created by Change.org, the company wanted to bring about a significant change to the way it was viewed by consumers. There have been two different arguments presented about the use of artificial colors in foods. Many studies have shown that their use in food could be linked to illnesses such as ADHD and cancer. There has seemed to be an issue with the use of red 40, yellow 3, yellow 5 and yellow 6 and how they bind to the DNA in humans. Other additives such as Blue 2 have been linked to the cause of brain tumors in rodents and in 1981, Green 3 was found to be a direct link to bladder cancer. Given the fact that the company will be replacing the artificial dyes in its products, the company has also said that consumers should prepare themselves for the transition process in terms of special packaging and colors being used as to indicate that the changes have taken place. It has been said that the company is not likely to stop using coloring entirely, but that the use of artificial coloring will be going away.[46] Instead Mars will use natural colors like turmeric in India.


From May 1, 2007, many Mars products made in the UK became unsuitable for vegetarians. The company announced that it would be using whey made with animal rennet (material from a calf's stomach lining, and a byproduct of veal), instead of using rennet made by microorganisms, in products including Mars, Twix, Snickers, Maltesers, Bounty, Minstrels and Milky Way.[47] The response from many consumers, particularly the Vegetarian Society's request for UK vegetarians to register their protests with Mars, generated extensive press and caused the company to abandon the plans shortly thereafter.[48] Mars switched to all-vegetarian sources in the UK.[49][50]

In 2007, Mars came under criticism by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for funding laboratory experiments on mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits which the group alleges are inhumane and in violation of the company’s own policies prohibiting experiments on animals.[51]

One study was conducted in collaboration with the Salk Institute regarding angiogenesis and spatial memory in which mice were given an ad libitum diet that included epicatechin, plant-derived flavonoid. One of the experiments involved groups of control and experimental animals, the latter of which were housed individually in cages that included a running wheel for optional exercise for two hours a day, the former —also housed individually— did not have access to a running wheel. Another experiment was the classical spatial memory assay—the Morris water maze—where experimenters had mice to swim in water mixed with white paint that concealed the water depth. Several mice were given daily injections of various substances before being killed and dissected. The study, which Mars contends was legally required in order for the company to make flavonoid-related health claims, showed that the inclusion of epicatechin in the diet improved memory and angiogenesis, and more so if coupled with exercise.[52][53][54]

Mars has been criticized for buying cocoa beans from West African farmers who reportedly use unpaid or poorly paid child laborers. In 2009, Mars announced that the company would work towards only purchasing cocoa from suppliers who meet environmental, labor and production standards. TransFair USA, an organization which certifies products as Fair Trade, applauded the move and expressed hope that it would include a provision for fair wages for laborers and farmers.[55] In 2010, Mars Inc. received the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence.[56] In April 2010, Mars launched the MyCocoaPaper initiative, which claims to provide economic opportunities to women and families in Indonesia by making paper products out of cocoa bark and recycled office paper.[57]

In 2011, Mars and Fairtrade International announced an agreement to introduce the first Fairtrade labeled Mars product and to work together to enable farmers to have sustainable livelihoods and substantially increased productivity. The first Mars product to carry the Fairtrade mark will be Maltesers, to appear in stores in 2012 in the UK and Ireland.[58]

In September 2017, an investigation[59] conducted by NGO Mighty Earth found that a large amount of the cocoa used in chocolate produced by Mars and other major chocolate companies was grown illegally in national parks and other protected areas in Ivory Coast and Ghana.[60][61] The countries are the world’s two largest cocoa producers.[62][63]

The report documents how in several national parks and other protected areas, 90% or more of the land mass has been converted to cocoa.[64] Less than four percent of Ivory Coast remains densely forested, and the chocolate companies’ laissez-faire approach to sourcing has driven extensive deforestation in Ghana as well.[65] In Ivory Coast, deforestation has pushed chimpanzees into just a few small pockets, and reduced the country’s elephant population from several hundred thousand to about 200-400.[66][67][68]


Many Mars products are household, famous-name brands. Some of these product lines are manufactured by Mars; others are manufactured by The Wrigley Company.

Original products[edit]

  • 3 Musketeers
  • Arj
  • Bounty
  • Celebrations
  • Cirku
  • CocoaVia
  • Combos
  • Dolmio
  • Dove
  • Ebly
  • Ethel M
  • Fling
  • Flyte
  • Galaxy
  • Galaxy Bubbles
  • Galaxy Minstrels
  • goodnessknows
  • Kudos
  • M-Azing
  • M&M's
  • Maltesers
  • Marathon
  • Mars
  • Masterfoods
  • Milky Way
  • Minstrels
  • Munch
  • Promite
  • Revels
  • Seeds of Change
  • Snickers
  • Topic
  • Tracker
  • Treets
  • Twix
  • Uncle Ben's Rice

Products manufactured by The Wrigley Company[edit]

  • 5 (gum)
  • Airwaves
  • Alpine
  • Altoids
  • Big Red
  • Bubble Tape
  • Doublemint
  • Eclipse
  • Eclipse Ice
  • Excel
  • Extra
  • Freedent
  • Hubba Bubba
  • Juicy Fruit
  • Life Savers
  • Lockets
  • Orbit
  • Ouch!
  • Skittles
  • Spearmint
  • Starburst
  • Surpass
  • Tunes
  • Wrigley's
  • Winterfresh

Products for pet consumption[edit]

  • ADVANCE (Australia and New Zealand only)
  • Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
  • Buckeye Nutrition
  • Cesar
  • Chappi
  • Dreamies
  • Eukanuba
  • Exelpet
  • Frolic
  • Good-o
  • Greenies
  • Iams
  • James Wellbeloved
  • Kit-e-kat
  • My Dog
  • Natura
  • Nutro Products
  • Pedigree
  • Optimum
  • Pill Pockets
  • Royal Canin
  • Schmackos
  • Sheba
  • Spillers
  • Teasers
  • Techni-Cal
  • Whiskas
  • Winergy
  • Wisdom Panel MX Mixed Breed DNA Test

Discontinued product lines[edit]

[citation needed]

  • AquaDrops
  • Bisc &
  • Cookies &
  • Pacers
  • PB Max
  • Royals
  • Spangles
  • Summit Cookie Bars
  • Banjo Candy Bar
  • Bliss Candy Bar


  • Banfield, The Pet Hospital (managed by MMI company)
  • VCA Inc. animal hospital chain
  • BluePearl: Emergency & Specialty clinics.
  • Abaxis: Veterinary laboratory.
  • Sound: Veterinary Imagining.
  • Wisdom Panel: Pet DNA testing.

Awards and honors[edit]

The company was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013, citing the example that employees of the pet food division can take their dogs to work.[69]

The company has made donations to Elizabethtown College, which includes a room sponsored by them and a weekly executive lecture series.[70][71]

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2017 Diversity in Media Awards Marketing Campaign of the Year Maltesers - Dance Floor (TV Advert) Nominated

In the Media[edit]

Various Mars candy bars, including Snickers and Three Musketeers, and the location of Mars Candy Factory on Oak Park Avenue in Chicago, are major motif elements in Never Split Tens!, a novel based on the life of pioneering Blackjack probability theorist Edward O. Thorp, by gambling writer Les Golden of Oak Park, Illinois, published in 2017 by Springer. Thorp grew up several blocks from the Mars Candy Factory.

See also[edit]

  • Big Chocolate
  • List of food companies


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Mars Symbioscience Businesses: