There are daunting challenges facing the world today: how to preserve the environment for future generations; how to spread prosperity and economic growth more universally; and how to feed more than seven billion people while also addressing the challenge of obesity- the World Health Organization estimates that there are 1 billion obese people in the world, and 2 billion people who don’t have access to adequate supplies of nutritious food. These large-scale challenges require ambitious solutions.
The origins of the food industry were based on society’s need to feed more people, more affordably ― ensuring access to adequate supplies of safe and healthy food. Mars was founded with an objective, first expressed by Forrest E. Mars, Sr. in 1947, that calls upon us “to manufacture and distribute food products in a manner that creates a mutuality of benefits for all of our stakeholders.”This purpose, the stewardship of the Mars Family, and the commitment of every Mars Associate drive us to actively address the public policy issues our industry is facing and be a relevant partner in helping to provide effective solutions. We believe it is our responsibility to make a difference by addressing the challenges that we share with society.
We are working in concert with the rest of the industry, regulators and other critical stakeholders to help address these challenges. This starts with our dedication to quality and food safety. It includes innovation and renovation to improve the nutrition of our products. And, it carries through to our packaging and our consumer communication, where we have led the way in helping people make informed dietary choices by using clear nutritional labeling and responsible marketing.
We are also committed to addressing concerns like climate change, energy use, water management, waste reduction and the prosperity of our communities. It is imperative that we improve sustainability in the way we source our ingredients to ensure that we can make our products while protecting our natural resources. We are partnering with others to give farmers the tools they need to produce high-quality and high-yielding agricultural raw materials. Important crops for Mars, such as cocoa and coffee, are particularly exposed to the effects of climate change, such as altered rainfall patterns and increases in pests and disease – trapping the farmers who produce them in poverty as their yields and incomes fall.
Achieving our ambitions would not be possible without the help of external partners in the areas of science, academia, government and sustainability. Their feedback, critiques and partnership are vital to our efforts. Good, sound science and collaboration are fundamental to our work in nutrition, sustainable sourcing of raw materials, and reduction of water, waste and energy use.
We are particularly proud of our work with the U.S. government, IBM and others to sequence and annotate the cocoa genome. The openly-published results of this work will enable greater collaboration in increasing cocoa yields and benefiting cocoa farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This discovery also opened the door for Mars to help address the challenge of food security by leading a larger coalition of WWF-US, African governments and other companies, with the goal of sequencing the genomes of 100 other crops grown by African farmers to increase the quantity and quality of food available to millions of people.
We are equally committed to contributing to the prosperity of our communities through our every day operations and performance as a business. Mars provides livelihoods for more than 70,000 Associates. On top of that, research indicates that for every Associate we employ, we indirectly provide work for around 30 more people in our supply chain. This means Mars supports the livelihoods of more than two million people worldwide, from farm to factory to distribution fleet.
As a private company governed by the Mars family, we think in terms of generations, not quarterly returns. This is evidenced in our decades-old commitment to investing in the building and operating of our own manufacturing. While this bucked the trend of outsourcing for lower costs – because we manufacture over 95 percent of the products we sell, we have greater control over our environmental footprint and the quality we are able to deliver to consumers.
Addressing the challenges that we share with society is part of our mandate as a food company committed to making a difference. The issues are global, complex and fast-changing, so our response must be sophisticated and of equal scale. Our Five Principles – Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom – have always guided the kind of company we are, and we believe that remaining dedicated to them will ensure our business has a lasting positive effect on the world.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the efforts of our Associates or the support and stewardship of the Mars Family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them. I hope that they will be proud of what they see in this summary.
The 21st Century is a pivotal time for sustainable development. Particularly during this challenging time, we hope to stand out as a responsible business that makes a difference to people and planet. Thank you for engaging with us on our journey, learning more about who we are and what we are trying to accomplish, and your continued feedback on how we can do better.
Paul S. Michaels