Mars is one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, and we operate in more than 78 countries. It’s important to us to be involved in conversations with governments, trade associations, regulatory bodies, unions and other organizations on issues important to our industry, suppliers and consumers. This dialogue helps us learn from external stakeholders and promotes and protects our business interests.
On all external engagements, we follow the policies in the Mars Guide to Global Standards, Policies and Practices, which help us to act with integrity, honesty and in line with The Five Principles. The guide includes our policy for participating in political processes, which you can download below. We make sure all relevant Associates understand and abide by these policies. As a privately held company, we report on our public policy engagements in the spirit of transparency. Policies, position statements and our performance on issues of stakeholder interest are publicly available on this website.
We focus our public policy and advocacy on areas where we have the greatest influence and where the scale of the potential impacts on people and the planet is largest. These include:
- Climate change: We’re doing our part to reduce our global carbon footprint through our Sustainable in a Generation program. We actively encourage governments and businesses to commit to progress in this area.
- Health and wellbeing: We work extensively with our partners to improve nutrition, address under nutrition by strengthening food security and safety, promote healthy lifestyles, and support responsible marketing.
- Sustainable agriculture: We advocate for sustainable agricultural practices on important issues such as labor rights and gender equality.
WORKING WITH TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
We work with many trade associations around the world, and hold leadership positions in some of them. These collaborations help make our voice heard on issues important to our company, our industry, and broader sustainability and nutrition issues. We voluntarily disclose some of the key trade associations that we work with.
On some issues, our views are different from these organizations. On the rare occasions we cannot reach a compromise, we are willing to advocate independently or adopt internal policies to govern our activities.
We do not make monetary contributions to candidates, or to national or state parties or committees in the US, or any of our countries of operation. We also do not contribute corporate funds to support electioneering communications.
Political Action Committees (PACs)
Currently, Mars, Incorporated does not have an employee PAC. We respect the right of our Associates to contribute to a candidate or cause of their choice on their own personal time and with their own personal funds.
LOBBYING AND ADVOCACY
We strive to use our voice within the food industry to drive constructive dialogue, and we lobby on issues that affect our business by publically supporting certain policies. In all instances, our positions are clearly reflected by our lobbying and advocacy work, whether conducted by us or third parties paid by the company.
We comply with all applicable laws in the markets where we operate, including the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) in the US. In 2014, our lobbying expenditure in the US was $1,770,000, as reported in the LDA database, which also outlines the specific lobbying issues we focus on, and the names of lobbyists who act on our behalf. For EU institutions, lobbying costs were €400,000-€500,000 in 2014, as stated in the EU Transparency Register. Lobbying figures include compensation for Associates working on advocacy and resources allocated to external consultants. They exclude membership fees for trade associations.
The following are a few examples of our lobbying and advocacy positions.
- Climate Change: We strongly advocate for government action on climate change. For example, we are part of a coalition of multinational companies—Business for Innovate Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP)—to press for government action on climate change in the US and globally.
- Global food security, nutrition and safety: We play an active role with governments, NGOs and other stakeholders (such as UN agencies) to increase awareness of how contaminated food affects nutrition and food security.
- Oral Health: We urge governments to identify oral health as a public health priority and the chewing of sugar-free gum as a hygiene measure.
- Obesity and diet-related chronic diseases: There are numerous examples of how we support policymakers’ efforts to address obesity and diet-related chronic diseases, including:
- Added sugars: We endorsed a recommendation by the world’s leading health authorities—including the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition—that people should limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of total calorie intake.
- Fiscal instruments related to nutrition: Our advocacy in this area depends on the specific context and proposal. In general, we believe that education, clear labeling, and responsible marketing are far more effective ways to help people achieve their dietary goals.
- Health and wellness commitments: As part of our membership of the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA), we published a letter to the Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan, detailing the industry’s enhanced health and wellness commitments in support of the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases 2013-2020.
- Labeling and marketing: We support clear front of pack labeling to help consumers make informed choices about what they’re eating. We engaged with the US Food & Drug Administration to support reforming the Nutrition Facts Panel, including a proposal to include an “added sugars” declaration in the Nutrition Facts Panel on all food packaging. We’ve also adopted the UK Government’s traffic light labeling scheme. We do not engage in, and strongly oppose, all marketing and advertising targeting children under 12 (as outlined in the Mars Marketing Code).
- Nutrition education: We take part in extensive advocacy in favor of strong US school nutrition standards.
- Reformulation: We work with local and national governments on salt and fat reduction targets. We’ve signed up to various government initiatives (for example, New York, UK, France and Switzerland) to reduce salt and saturated fats in relevant Mars products.
- Regulatory development of health and nutrition claims: Our internal standards require nutrition and health claims to be based on scientific evidence, and to represent the product accurately and honestly. All related advocacy reflects this commitment.
GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY FOR PUBLIC POLICY
Our Public Affairs team oversees Mars’ public policy engagements, including advocacy, trade association memberships, and direct lobbying. Our Global Public Policy Group, which includes senior global segment and functional leaders, works to ensure that Mars has globally consistent positions and policies across all aspects of public policy. Associates who participate in these areas are trained on stakeholder engagement and lobbying.