Edge Talks Nutrition and Food at the WSJ Global Food Forum
How do we reconcile the nutrition we need with the food we want to maintain our health and prevent disease? That was the question Jean-Christophe Flatin, our President of Innovation, Science, Technology & Mars Edge, tackled when he recently spoke at the annual Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum.
“After 28 years in this business, I’m motivated more than ever by the breakthroughs in science, data and digital technology to reconcile the food we want with the nutrition we need,” he said. “It’s what drives us to do what we do every day at Mars Edge.”
Read his key takeaways below:
Why do we need to act?
There are too many people who face nutritional gaps, about four billion, to be exact. Half don’t have access to food with critical micronutrients like vitamins or minerals. The other half have access to food, but aren’t getting the micronutrients they need.
Food and nutrition play a huge role in health maintenance. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being—not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The longer we can stay healthy, the bigger the benefits for individuals, communities and countries. Nutrition and activity support health maintenance. We should focus on health maintenance and disease prevention, not just disease treatment.
We’ve lost the connection between food and nutrition. First, Food is what you think of when you get hungry. It is strongly connected with our emotions, and is closely linked to our social and cultural backgrounds. Our senses, rituals and cravings drive it. Second, Nutrition, on the other hand, carries connotations of science and knowledge, often demonstrated through tables of macro and micronutrients.
How can we address the problem?
We can bring back the connection between food and nutrition. We can do so through products that are tasty and nutritious, affordable and accessible. We need to provide simple solutions that empower the consumer to be in the driver seat of their health maintenance through diet and the right support based on their own needs and goals. We need to be relevant to their lifestyle.
We have a dedicated business. Mars created Edge to do just that and we’re privileged to be able to help contribute to the solution by offering our foodspring® and CocoaVia™ brands. Through these brands, we’re focusing on consumers who are looking to keep healthy through sports, fitness, weight management, and those looking to improve their heart and brain health. Across our brands, we’re taking a consumer-led and evidence-based approach, implementing data-enabled and digital solutions, all grounded in science and research.
Why is now the time?
Technology advances and consumer interest. There’s rising health awareness among consumers, further amplified by the pandemic. And we now have tools in our pockets—improved digital and data capabilities—enabling consumers to get the solutions they need. While we still have a lot to learn, we see great scientific breakthroughs opening new doors for new solutions. We have an increased ability to personalize, with consumers moving from one-size-fits-all food to what's-right-for-me food. We can increasingly help provide solutions. This requires courage and business model innovation.
Inspiration and motivation in the food industry. We’re a diverse, family-owned business spanning confectionery and gum brands, to wholesome dinnertime staples, to pet nutrition and veterinary health. Through these brands, we’re always exploring how we can contribute to consumers’ lives by evolving and expanding our portfolio. At Mars Edge we have the privilege to continue this journey and contribute to better lives through nutrition.
We invite you to read Jean-Christophe’s related blog on Mars Edge LinkedIn—feel free to like, comment and share! #WSJFood #TomorowStartsToday #innovation #futureoffood #nutrition.