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Mars’ New R&D Hub Will Lead Its Snacking Innovation

The $42 million facility in Chicago is the largest innovation hub among the company’s global snacking R&D sites, and will be instrumental in doubling the Mars Snacking business.

Mars Innovation M&Ms
Mars

As Mars aims to double its snacking business to $36 billion within the next 10 years, it plans to do so by transforming the snacking industry. Brand new to its arsenal is a Global Research and Development Hub in Chicago on its Goose Island campus, the global headquarters of the company’s snacking business.


   Mars' Strategy Aims to Double Snacking Revenue

One of seven Mars global innovation sites around the world, the 44,000-sq-ft, $42 million facility will be dedicated to chocolate and nut testing, research, and innovation. The new facility will help the company’s 300 R&D associates in Chicago create and refine new products before they are scaled around the globe.

Recipes will be perfected in small batches in the plant’s contemporary test kitchen.Recipes will be perfected in small batches in the plant’s contemporary test kitchen.MarsThe addition to the company’s Chicago site means that it can now do everything under one roof, notes Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, in a blog about the opening. “From vital ingredient science work aimed at pioneering a new era of sustainable ingredients, to developing packaging and product,” he adds.

The new site will centralize crucial innovation components while also serving as a testing ground for future-focused, sustainable ingredients. Recipes will be perfected in small batches in the plant’s contemporary test kitchen. The flexible bar line, which mimics factory conditions, will allow Mars Snacking scientists to hone the process of bringing new products to scale. A dedicated nut facility inside the plant will also enable next-generation testing, evaluation, and application of peanuts and tree nuts within Mars products, key to brands such as Snickers, M&M’s and Kind.

The flexible bar line, which mimics factory conditions, will allow Mars Snacking scientists to hone the process of bringing new products to scale.The flexible bar line, which mimics factory conditions, will allow Mars Snacking scientists to hone the process of bringing new products to scale.Mars“This state-of-the-art facility will serve as the epicenter for the kind of groundbreaking research and development that will shape the snacking category for generations to come,” Clarke says. “Innovation has been at the heart of our success for over 100 years, and this significant investment reaffirms our unwavering commitment to staying ahead of the curve.”

Sustainable operation

As part of its Net Zero Roadmap—with a goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its full value chain by 2050—the new R&D center has been designed with sustainability in mind. It will be powered 100% with renewable energy which is fossil-fuel free and covered by renewable energy credits from Mars’ wind farm in Ford Ridge, Ill.


   Mars Spending $1 Billion on Path to Net Zero GHG Emissions

Frank Mars opened his company’s first large-scale factory in Chicago in 1929, and Chicago was also the home of Wrigley, which Mars acquired in 2008. “In a region already renowned as the epicenter of food-related production and innovation, the arrival of the Mars Research & Development Hub propels Chicagoland to even greater heights,” comments Michael Fassnacht, president and CEO of World Business Chicago.

The Global Innovation Hub will join Mars’ network of existing global innovation sites in Chicago; Guangzhou, China; Huariou, China; Elizabethtown, Pa.; and Slough, UK.

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