Nutrition and Science

Associates working in a Mars laboratory
Associates working in a Mars laboratory

We invest in scientific research and development that spur innovation and discovery in nutrition, for both people and pets.

Partnering with top scientific institutions, we are researching the health benefits of cocoa flavanols and the oral health benefits of chewing sugar-free gum. Mars Associates are undertaking research to strengthen the nutritional content of products in emerging markets, and helping farmers to grow crops that are healthier, more productive and nutritious.

Our Waltham® Centre for Pet Nutrition and our research into canine genetics are furthering our understanding of pet nutrition.

Our Food Advisory Boards

Our work with advisory boards supports and guides our business decisions and ensures the quality of our research. Our Food Scientific Advisory Council is a group of experts who provide guidance to our business on science and the scientific rigor needed to support the research we pursue. Their guidance ensures the decisions we make in the area of health and nutrition are well-balanced and based on sound science. It is comprised of external scientific experts in the areas of food chemistry, health and nutrition and sustainability (listed below), as well as Mars Associates.

  • Alan Bennett, Executive Director, PIPRA and Professor of Plant Sciences, UC Davis.

  • Bruce Hamaker, Director and Professor, Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, Purdue University.

  • Joanne Lupton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Texas A&M University (Co-Chair).

  • Martin Mortimer, Department Head of Plant Sciences, The Food Security Network, University of Liverpool.

Our European Nutrition Advisory Board includes representatives from each major region in Europe, who support the strategy discussions for Mars Chocolate, Mars Food and Mars Drinks.

Cocoa Flavanols

Since the 1990s, Mars Symbioscience has been driving research on cocoa flavanols, phytonutrients naturally found in cocoa beans. Flavanols help keep blood vessels healthy and flexible, supporting cardiovascular health to maintain healthy circulation.1 Nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, brain and eyes, depends on a healthy circulatory system.

We have created our own patented process, COCOAPRO®, which retains these naturally occurring cocoa flavanols to deliver products with guaranteed levels. We can now offer cocoa flavanols in a variety of forms, including dietary supplements. For instance, Mars Symbioscience has developed COCOAVIA®, a cocoa extract supplement that contains 250mg of cocoa flavanols per serving.2

Crop Development

Mars is taking a leading role in the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC). This collection of governmental and non-governmental bodies, scientific institutes and companies will map the genomes of some of Africa’s most important food crops to help breeders make them more high-yielding, nutritious and resilient. These “orphan crops” are crucial to African farming families, but have been largely ignored by science because they are not traded internationally. The Consortium’s work can help Africa tackle food scarcity and malnutrition, while improving the incomes of the 600 million Africans involved in farming. Mars co-chairs the AOCC along with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and WWF-US. Work has started on the sequencing of 100 crop varieties, and a number of African Plant Breeding Academies will be established in Ghana and Kenya.

Our work on rice is also bringing nutritional benefits. Rice varieties tend to have either great eating quality or high yields, but not always both. Our research and development team, including our rice-breeding specialist David Mackill, is helping to develop or select rice varieties that taste great, have high field yields, and provide higher levels of fiber and other nutritional benefits.

This is a complicated process that involves several generations of cross breeding and stringent testing to ensure the new rice variety can produce high grain yields in different seasons and varying weather conditions.

By focusing on the quality of the rice plant as well as nutritional value, our research aims to produce stronger crops that can provide healthy sources of fiber, help mitigate global food scarcity and increase farmers’ incomes. Mars is also supporting research into ways to reduce the impacts of rice production on climate change and local water supplies. Read more in Mars and Science.

The WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition

Small dog at Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition

Celebrating 50 years of activity, the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition serves as a leading scientific authority in advancing the frontiers of research into the nutrition and health of companion animals. Working with a network of renowned international academic institutes, WALTHAM® pursues collaborative research to advance understanding of animal health and nutrition and enables the development of innovative products that meet pets’ needs in a practical way.

Our WALTHAM® studies are peer-reviewed to ensure the quality of our science. Furthermore, publishing our research enables the benefits of this work to be shared with veterinary professionals and the pet care community worldwide. This approach ensures WALTHAM® is at the forefront of scientific development and discovery.

WALTHAM® ensures that our pet foods, whether specialty or supermarket brand, are based on extensive and evolving research into pet nutrition. Scientific insights into protein, amino acid, fat content, vitamin and mineral requirements and macronutrient profiles all ensure that we formulate high-quality foods for pets.

Canine Genetics

Mars Veterinary is improving the health and quality of life for dogs through the science of genetics. We have researched the genetic signatures of more than 200 dog breeds and used the data to create a variety of breed profiles. The tests provide the dog owner with information about pure-breed ancestors in the previous three generations of ancestors. This information is vital in helping owners to understand the medical, behavioral, nutritional and training needs for their unique, mixed-breed dogs.

WISDOM PANEL® Professional also pre-screens for specific diseases associated with certain breeds. If an at-risk breed contributed chromosomes to the mixed-breed dog, the veterinarian is alerted to educate the owner on the clinical signs and can consider testing the dog for the disease.

A more recent addition to the WISDOM PANEL® Professional test is diagnostic screening for seven disease-causing gene mutations. These screening tests allow vets to advise their clients whether their dog is carrying one or more copies of a specific disease mutation, and the likely consequences. One disease screened for by the panel is Cystinuria, which pre-disposes some dogs to kidney stones. Dogs that carry two defective copies of this mutation are likely to be at high risk of developing stones, and, armed with this information, the vet and pet owner can look for symptoms and adjust the dog’s nutrition to prevent the disease.

Oral Health Benefits of Chewing

Oral health is an integral part of general health and wellbeing. However, tooth decay (caries) and gum diseases can affect nearly every human being during their lifetime. In fact, according to the FDI World Dental Federation, tooth decay is one of the most common non-communicable diseases on the planet. While largely preventable, many instances of tooth decay remain unaddressed due to unavailable or insufficient oral care services.

Wrigley recognizes the complexity and severity of this issue, and for decades has been committed to collaborating with oral health experts to better understand and advance science in this area, for the mutual benefit of consumers and the scientific and public health communities.

Since the 1930s, Wrigley has been researching the oral health benefits of chewing gum. Since then, we have carried out internal research and partnered with leading independent researchers and academic institutions.

Research has shown that chewing sugar-free gum can help protect teeth in a number of ways. After you eat or drink, plaque releases acids so plaque pH decreases to an unsafe level. Over time, this weakens your teeth and can lead to decay. Chewing sugar-free gum increases saliva production, which can help neutralize plaque acids, wash away food particles and remineralize tooth enamel to help strengthen teeth. In fact, chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after meals and snacks has been proven to help protect your teeth.

Today, the oral care benefits of chewing sugar-free gum are widely accepted and endorsed by dental professionals, in addition to being included in the health policies of several national governments. The FDI World Dental Federation and more than 25 national dental associations recognize the scientific evidence and allow the use of their logos and related messaging on our packs of sugar-free gum. Additionally, the European Commission has approved oral health claims for sugar-free chewing gum, one of the few food categories to gain such recognition.

Health in Gum™

Wholly owned by Wrigley, CAFOSA has developed an innovative concept in the area of medicated chewing gum called Health in Gum.

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