By Fiona Dawson, Global President Food, Multisales and Global Customers at Mars
As a food company, we know the power of dinnertimes. It’s more than just what is on our plates. We know that what we eat, where it comes from and who we share it with are important. Creating better food today for a better world tomorrow has never been more important than it is today as we face global challenges that affect every one of us.
We believe that a better world tomorrow is one where everyone has access to healthy meals, more people cook and sit down together to enjoy shared dinnertimes, and more food can be produced with less. As a company, we have made some strong steps towards realizing this future and that is why I am delighted to introduce our first annual Purpose in Action report. It’s important that we share our commitments publicly — we need to hold ourselves to account and we want to invite partnerships and collaboration across the industry because we can’t do it alone. This report will celebrate our successes and share our challenges so that we can find solutions together. Ultimately, we know that if we are guided by delivering our Purpose, we are doing the right things for our business, our Associates, our consumers, the planet and society.
As I reflect on the year, I want to first pause on the COVID-19 crisis. During such a period of deep uncertainty, ensuring access to good nutrition was essential. In my 32 years at Mars, I have never been prouder to be part of a team dedicated to ensuring we could deliver healthy food when it was mattered most. Across the globe, our factories broke records so that we could continue to provide food for families around the world. Associates from all over the business have inspired me with their commitment and ability to find new and innovative solutions to allow us to continue to operate in unprecedented circumstances.
I am humbled by how our Associates’ worked with our local communities to provide food for those who need it most. Together, our Mars Food and Multisales business units have [as of February 2021] donated more than $4 million in cash and product in-kind to COVID-19 crisis relief. That is the equivalent of 10 million meals. The efforts are part of our continuing community giving programmes and the $26 million commitment made by Mars, Incorporated to support COVID-19 relief.
Beyond this, we have also celebrated some incredible progress against our Purpose commitments:
- As we ended the year, we closed our Health & Wellbeing ambition set out in 2016. We have exceeded our target to deliver one billion more healthy meals by 2021. 84% of our meals will meet World Health Organization recommendations for calories, added sugar, sodium, and fats as set out in our Mars Food Nutrition Criteria, and we have reduced salt and added sugar in our products in line with our targets — removing over 1200 tonnes of salt from our products since 2015.
- We have been using our best loved brands to celebrate the benefits of shared dinnertimes. We are privileged to be on kitchen shelves and dinner plates around the world, and have used this position to inspiring people to cook and eat together. In response to COVID-19, we used our voice to remind people of the importance of eating together even when we’re far apart.
- We have also made strong progress on our sustainability commitments. This year over 99% of our rice has been sourced from farmers working toward the Sustainable Rice Platform Standard. This is not only good for the planet but is also helping to support farmers on the pathway to economic stability. For example, results from our rice farmers in India and Pakistan have shown an 8% increase in yield, 30% reduction in water use, and, on average, household income from rice has increased by around 30%.
As a business we have also taken action on inclusion and equity. In the world we want tomorrow, society is inclusive. — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world. Across our Mars, Incorporated business we have committed to long-term strategies to promote Equity, Inclusion and Diversity for Associates.
Within Mars Food, we have taken steps to improve diversity across our marketing, advertising, sourcing and supplier communities. In September 2020, we announced that we would change the UNCLE BEN’S® brand to Ben’s Original™ with a refreshed brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table — signaling the brand’s ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world’s best rice.
These are just some of the highlights of the progress we have made this year. But despite our progress, we have so much more to do. We have established our new five-year commitments to drive stronger action to deliver Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. This includes championing meaningful meals; democratizing access to healthy sustainable food; and driving our brands’ purposes with consumers, customers and partners so that we can deliver six billion more healthy meals by the end of 2025.