Mars and Science

Mars Associate pets chocolate lab in park in WALTHAM®
WALTHAM® is the fundamental science center for Mars Petcare and focuses on the nutrition and wellbeing of dogs, cats, horses, birds and fish, and their benefits to humans

Mars And Science

To remain a successful business, Mars must deliver quality, nutritious food that is sourced and manufactured in a sustainable way. Science underpins every aspect of this work. It is the key to tackling a wide range of societal challenges, from climate change to food security, and as one of the world’s leading food manufacturers, Mars has a direct stake in these issues.

That is why we invest in and conduct research to enhance basic scientific knowledge, as well as practical research that applies this knowledge in areas where our business interests and society’s interests intersect. Being a private, family-owned company gives us the freedom to invest in activities that may only produce results in the longer term.

Our research covers many topics and we look for commonalities between them. We are using our in-house scientific knowledge and our partnerships with academic and other research organizations to boost supplies of sustainable raw materials, to develop strategies for making our operations more sustainable, to improve the nutritional profile of our products, and to explore the benefits of activities as varied as chewing gum, keeping pets and consuming unique compounds found naturally in food, such as cocoa flavanols. Our Marketing Lab is working with academic institutions to bring discipline and rigor to our marketing activities. Their efforts include applying hard science from fields including applied mathematics, statistics and data-mining, as well as insights from fields such as psychology, cognitive sciences, neurosciences, ethnography, and behavioral economics.

Combining Rice Research for Health, Nutrition, and Sustainability

Mars is seeking a “quadruple win” in its research into rice varieties and growing techniques. Discoveries to date include:

  • Alternating between wetting and drying rice systems during growing seasons saves water without impacting yields.

  • Carefully selecting rice varieties and using less water and less nitrogen fertilizer reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Reducing water and fertilizer use to optimize total economic returns rather than overall yields creating more income for farmers. Much of this agronomic work has been led by Mars Associates David Mackill and Walter De Man.

  • Increasing the resistant starch in rice improves its nutritional quality. Mars built on this research to improve the fiber content of its brown rice, and UNCLE BEN’S® Ready Rice® Whole Grain Brown became the first whole grain brown rice to officially receive a claim that it is a “Good Source of Fiber.”

Read more about our work to make rice production more sustainable.

Below are links to more examples of our use of science to create mutual benefits for Mars and society:

Much of our research takes place at our own facilities, which include the Mars Center for Cocoa Science in Bahia, Brazil, and the Waltham® Centre for Pet Nutrition in the UK. We employ internationally recognized scientists, work with experts from a broad range of scientific and academic disciplines and, when appropriate, share what we learn for the benefit of the global community.

We publish our research in reputable, peer-reviewed journals for others to learn from and use.We also sponsor, attend, and speak at major scientific conferences. Examples include the TEDMED health and medicine conference and the Lindau Nobel Laureate meetings, which has been bringing together Nobel prize-winners and the world’s most promising young scientists and researchers since 1951. Mars has been involved with the Lindau organization since 2007. We support students from all continents to attend and participate in the meetings, as well as contribute to the discussions and share our internal research.

The Mars Science Advisory Council Roles

Two Mars scientists performing experiments in laboratory

Mars accesses the best possible science, advice and expertise. One way it does this is through the Mars Science Advisory Council (MSAC), which contains both company and external scientists. MSAC provides guidance on research and quality issues, as well as access to a vast external network that keeps the company abreast of advances, opportunities and challenges. Each of Mars’ segments also has its own science advisory council, and these councils establish research advisory boards and organize peer reviews as needed. MSAC meets regularly, on a monthly basis and twice yearly in person. We regularly invite new members to ensure that our current business priorities are reflected, and the current MSAC members include:

MSAC advisory role Name Position
Co-Chair Frank Akers President, Oak Ridge Strategy Group
Chocolate Alan Bennett Executive Director, PIPRA; Professor of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
Mars Symbioscience David Dinges Professor, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Wrigley John Erdman Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois
Petcare Ian Macdonald Professor of Metabolic Physiology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham
Sustainability Janet Ranganathan Vice President, Science and Research, World Resources Institute
Food Safety Robert Buchanan Director and Professor, Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland
All segments Joanne Lupton Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor and University Faculty Fellow at Texas A&M University and holder of the William W. Allen Endowed Chair in Human Nutrition.
All segments Robert Powell Professor, UC Davis Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science

MSAC’s role is to advise Mars in four areas: strategic guidance, scientific advice, program and project review, and scientific communications. Specifically, we call on MSAC to:

  • Provide strategic advice for assuring the quality and relevance of our research programs and the evidence underlying scientific decisions.

  • Contribute to the formulation of strategic plans intended to guide research and development efforts to produce scientific data and new product leads.

  • Provide objective, candid assessments of the outcomes of Mars, Inc.’s research and development efforts, recommending changes as needed.

  • Highlight scientific advances and research results relevant to Mars products and services.

  • Provides rapid feedback on the relevance of developments in health policy, health research policy, and science research funding trends that may impact Mars, Inc.

  • Recommend other experts to advise Mars staff.

  • Review ongoing or proposed research projects and programs.

  • Recommend members for scientific review panels established by the Company to review ongoing or proposed research projects and programs.

  • Advise on criteria and standards against which proposed research projects are reviewed.

  • Provide external peer review as requested.  

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