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Mars, Inc.
Type Private
Founded 1911 in Tacoma, Washington, USA
1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Headquarters 6885 Elm Street, McLean, Virginia, USA
Key people Frank C. Mars (founder)
John Mars (chairman)
Mars family (owners)
Industry Confectionery manufacturing
Products Mars · M&M's · Milky Way · Bounty · Snickers · Twix · Pedigree · Uncle Ben's · Skittles · Dove/Galaxy
Revenue US$30 billion (2008)[1]
Employees 70,000 (2008)[1]

Mars, Incorporated is a worldwide manufacturer of confectionery, pet food and other food products with US$21 billion in annual sales in 2008, and is ranked as the 6th largest privately-held company in the United States by Forbes.[2] Headquartered in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, USA,[3][4] the company is entirely owned by the Mars family. Mars operates in six business segments in the U.S.: Chocolate (Hackettstown, NJ) , Petcare (Franklin, TN), Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (Chicago, IL), Food (Los Angeles, CA), Drinks (West Chester, PA) & Symbioscience (Gaithersburg, MD).[5]

The European division is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, and was known as Masterfoods Europe until the end of 2007. The name Masterfoods originally came from a food business founded by the Lewis family in 1949 in Australia, and acquired by Mars in 1967. The Canadian division (formerly Effem Inc.) is based in Bolton, Ontario.

The company announced at the end of 2007 that all business units were adopting the name Mars. Masterfoods ceased to be a business name but continues as the brand name of food products in Australia.

Mars is most famous for its eponymous Mars bar, as well as other confectionery such as Milky Way, M&M's, Twix, Skittles and Snickers. They also produce non-confectionery snacks (including Combos) and other foods (including Uncle Ben's and British Pasta Sauce Brand Dolmio) as well as pet foods (such as Whiskas, Chappy and Pedigree brands). Mars' purchase of Doane Petcare Company in June 2006 significantly increased its position in the U.S. dry pet food category. In addition to these businesses, Mars also operates a chain of premium chocolate shops across the United States called Ethel's. These shops are an outgrowth of the Ethel M premium chocolate business that Forrest Mars started in Las Vegas in 1980 when he became bored with retirement.[6]

On April 28, 2008, Mars, Incorporated, together with Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated, announced the buyout of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, the world's largest chewing gum producer, for $23 billion in an all cash deal. The two companies together are expected to generate sales in excess of $27 billion.


Company history

Frank C. Mars, whose mother taught him to hand dip candy, sold candy by age 19.[7] The Mars Candy Factory he started in 1911 with Ethel V. Mars, his second wife, in Tacoma, Washington,[7] ultimately failed[8] but it had already become a large employer, producing and selling fresh candy wholesale.[7] By 1920, Frank Mars had returned to his home state, Minnesota, where the company was founded that year as Mar-O-Bar Co. in Minneapolis[9] and later incorporated there as Mars, Incorporated.[7] Forrest Mars, son of Frank Mars and his first wife who was also named Ethel, was inspired by a popular type of milkshake[10] in 1923, to introduce the Milky Way bar, advertised as a "chocolate Malted Milk in a candy bar",[11] and became the best-selling candy bar.[9] In 1927–1928[10] or 1929, Frank moved the company to the Chicago, Illinois, area.[9] In 1932, Forrest started Mars Limited in the United Kingdom, and launched the Mars Bar.

Mars is still a family owned business, belonging to the Mars family. The company is famous for its secrecy. A 1993 Washington Post Magazine article was a rare raising of the veil, as the reporter was able to see the "M"s being applied to the M&M's, something that "no out-sider had ever before been invited to observe."[12] In 1999, for example, the company did not acknowledge that Forrest Mars, Sr., had died or that he had worked for the company.[13]

The company argues that due to private ownership, there is no need to account to anyone but themselves. In the same spirit, Mars, Inc., does not cooperate with many widely publicized organizations, such as Fair trade, arguing that its own internal standards, rooted in the "Five Principles" deliver even better results. An example is the company's Cocoa Sustainability initiative.[14]

Despite its secrecy, Mars, Incorporated has developed a reputation across its leading markets to be excellent training grounds for managers. In the United Kingdom for instance, many CEOs of large companies learned their trade at Mars, Inc., including former Mars executives Allan Leighton and Justin King, the former appointed CEO of the supermarket chain Asda and then the British postal service Royal Mail, with the latter presently the CEO of the retailer J Sainsbury plc. Recently, the company caught on to that and re-branded their employer brand to "Mars — The Ultimate Business School".[15]

Moving into fourth generation family ownership, the company recently passed from family leadership into non-family leadership; however, the business is still owned by the family. The global CEO of Mars, Inc. is Paul Michaels. Michaels is part of a new group of non-family management that has taken over since the retirement of John and Forrest Mars, Jr.. The family now oversees the business as a council or board of directors.

In the United States the company has manufacturing facilities in Hackettstown, New Jersey; Albany, Georgia; Burr Ridge, Chicago and Mattoon, Illinois; Cleveland, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; Greenville, Mississippi; Greenville and Waco, Texas; Henderson and Reno, Nevada; and Vernon, California.

Until sold in June 2006, a division of Mars known as Mars Electronics International produced, among other products, coin mechanisms such as those used in vending machines. MEI also manufactured bill validators, which were among the most common bill validators found in the US.

A further Mars business — Four Square — utilize those products formerly made at MEI in their vending machines. Four Square comprises the Flavia and Klix brands. Flavia operates within the US, UK and Japanese markets, while Klix operates within UK, Germany and France.

In 2007, Mars, Incorporated undertook a major rebranding operation which saw, among other global changes, Four Square being renamed to Mars Drinks, the pet food division (formerly part of Masterfoods) being renamed to Mars Petfoods and Masterfoods itself (the largest division of Mars, Incorporated) being renamed to Mars Snacks[citation needed].

Mars Limited

Mars Limited is the name of the British branch of Mars, Inc. The company is based in Slough, UK. Mars brands manufactured for the UK market but not for the US include Maltesers and Tunes.

In 1932, Forrest Mars, Sr., opened what was then Mars (Europe) headquarters, and remains Mars (UK) headquarters in Slough, UK[13] on the then-new Slough Trading Estate after a disagreement with his father, Frank C. Mars. In this factory, he produced the first Mars Bar, based on the American Milky Way.[16] In 1936, Mars separated the vanilla version of Milky Way to a separate brand, Forever Yours, which was discontinued and later reintroduced as Milky Way Dark and later still, Milky Way Midnight.[citation needed]

Many brands which were later introduced in the US were first created and sold in Britain;[citation needed] these include Starburst, Skittles, Twix, Snickers and Topic.

The bar formerly sold in the U.S. as the Mars Bar is now marketed in that country as the Snickers Almond Bar and is not sold consistently in the UK where it has appeared with other special editions that are released occasionally.

Milky Way in Europe and worldwide is known as the 3 Musketeers in America. Similarly, the Snickers bar was previously marketed in Britain and the Republic of Ireland as Marathon until 1990; in the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, also until 1990; Dove is known as Galaxy in the UK, Republic of Ireland and the Middle East; and Starburst was known in the UK and Ireland as Opal Fruits until 1998. Chocolate and peanut M&M's were introduced in 1990.

The two factories in Slough were located on Liverpool Road and Dundee Road; the one on Liverpool Road closed in 2007, with Twix and Starburst production moving to the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.[17]

In 1963 a large factory was opened in Veghel, the Netherlands. This factory has currently the biggest production volume of Mars factories and is even one of the biggest chocolate factories in the world.[18] Most confectionery products for Europe are produced in Slough, UK and Veghel, the Netherlands.

The major production plant for Mars products in Australia is in Ballarat, Victoria.[19]


From May 1, 2007, many Mars products made in the UK became unsuitable for vegetarians. The company announced that it would be using whey made with animal rennet (material from a calf's stomach lining, and a byproduct of veal), instead of using rennet made by microorganisms, in products including Mars, Twix, Snickers, Maltesers, Bounty, Minstrels and Milky Way.[20] The response from many thousands of consumers, particularly the Vegetarian Society's request for UK vegetarians to register their protests with Mars, generated a lot of press, and caused the company to abandon these plans shortly thereafter.[21] It has reportedly decided to switch to all-vegetarian sources in the near future in the UK.[22][23] In January 2008 the Metro newspaper reported that Mars had allegedly begun to incorporate animal derived rennet.[24]

Mars has come under criticism by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for funding animal tests which the group alleges are inhumane, including a study regarding angiogenesis and spatial memory in which mice were force fed catechins, a candy ingredient, compelled to swim in paint, then dissected.[25] Other experiments involved life-threatening cardiac puncture of mice with inadequate anesthesia. These experiments are not required by law. PETA alleges that their only purpose is to promote increased consumption of Mars' products and that harmless tests can be done on humans.

Mars has been criticized for buying cocoa beans from West African farmers who reportedly use unpaid or poorly paid child laborers. In 2009, Mars announced that, as of 2020, the company would only purchase cocoa from suppliers who meet environmental, labor and production standards. TransFair USA, an organization which certifies products as Fair Trade, applauded the move and expressed hope that it would include a provision for fair wages for laborers and farmers.[26]


Many of Mars' products are famous-name brands, including:

Other confections, no longer produced, include:

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "Yahoo! Finance: Mars, Incorporated Company Profile". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  2. ^ "The Largest Private Companies". November 3, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2009. 
  3. ^ "McLean CDP, Virginia." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
  4. ^ "Locations." Mars, Incorporated. Retrieved on September 1, 2009.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Joel Glenn Brenner (1999). The Emperors of Chocolate. Random House, Inc.. p. 324. ISBN 0-679-42190-4. 
  7. ^ a b c d "History". Mars, Incorporated. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  8. ^ Alexander, Morgan (May 28, 2008). "Mars in Tacoma". The Tacoma Sun. Retrieved 2008-10-06.  and "Mars family". Practically Edible.!openframeset&frame=Right&Src=/edible.nsf/pages/marsfamily!opendocument. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  9. ^ a b c "Franklin Mars". The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  10. ^ a b El-Hai, Jack (March 2007). "Candy Bar Combat". Minnesota Monthly (Greenspring Media Group). Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Milky Way Brand Timeline". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  12. ^ Joel Glenn Brenner, "Planet of the M&M's", Washington Post Magazine, April 12, 1992.
  13. ^ a b Chong, Liz (2005-08-29). "Two Mars staff for trial on fraud charges". TimesOnline.,,9070-1754766,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  14. ^ "Mars, Incorporated: Cocoa Sustainability, A Commitment to the Future". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  15. ^ "The Ultimate Business School". Mars. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  16. ^ "Slough History Online: Themes - "Smoke, Steam and (Computer) Chips: Mars — the Chocolate Planet"". 1932-05-17. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  17. ^ " "Mars cuts 700 from UK workforce"". BBC News. 2005-03-10. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  18. ^ "Mars Netherlands — Home". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  19. ^ Sobey, Emily (2009-11-25). "Mars celebrates 30 years in Ballarat". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  20. ^ " "Mars starts using animal products" May 14, 2007". BBC News. 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  21. ^ " "Mars bars get veggie status back" May 20, 2007". BBC News. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  22. ^ Wallop, Harry (2007-05-21). ""Mars in damage limitation exercise" May 21, 2007". Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  23. ^ "Mars UK press release Aug, 2007: "Introduction of vegetarian labelling on our leading UK confectionery brands"". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  24. ^ "Want meat in your choc bar? Twix fits!". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  25. ^ van Praag H, Lucero MJ, Yeo GW, Stecker K, Heivand N, Zhao C, Yip E, Afanador M, Schroeter H, Hammerstone J, Gage FH Plant-Derived Flavanol Epicatechin Enhances Angiogenesis and Retention of Spatial Memory in Mice J Neuroscience, 27(22):5869-5878, May 30, 2007
  26. ^ "Mars Sets Goal for Sustainable Cocoa Sources". April 10, 2009. Retrieved 04 March 2010. 

Further reading

External links

Mars Symbioscience Businesses:



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