Mars Wrigley to Expand R&D Hub

The candy maker’s multimillion-dollar investment will create its largest innovation center in the world.

April 22, 2022

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CHICAGO—Mars Inc. is set to break ground on a new, best-in-class, global research and development hub for Mars Wrigley to innovate the next-generation of snacks and treats to support such brands as M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, TWIX®, and more, the global candy giant announced yesterday.

The new innovation center will be located adjacent to the company’s existing Global Innovation Center on Goose Island, making Chicago the largest innovation hub in the world for Mars Wrigley.

“Mars has made Chicago home to innovation for nearly 100 years, producing some of the world’s most beloved and iconic snacks and treats,” said Chris Rowe, global vice president of research and development, Mars Wrigley.

“Creating new jobs and a world-class, multimillion-dollar research and development hub demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the Chicagoland area and accelerates our future for innovation. This facility brings exciting new capabilities and enhances the vibrant innovation culture Mars has on Goose Island.”

The investment will bring about 30 additional jobs to the Mars Wrigley Global Innovation Center, which will bring the Mars campus total to nearly 1,000 jobs on Goose Island. Construction is slated to be complete by summer 2023.

Earlier this year, Mars announced the future community donation of its Chicago manufacturing site, the company noted. As part of the donation process, Mars is partnering with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago to engage the community and local leaders to identify opportunities for future use. Community engagement and conversations are underway and will continue over the next two years before the land is ready for donation sometime in 2024.

“LISC is honored to partner with Mars and support community engagement efforts for this notable land donation," said Meghan Harte, LISC Chicago executive director.

Mars Supports Small Cocoa Farmers

Separately, Mars Wednesday announced the launch of two farmer-first programs to support 14,000 smallholder farmers in Côte d'Ivoire and Indonesia on a path to a sustainable living income in the next eight years. These programs were designed in consultation with cocoa farmers and development partners and build on lessons learned from Mars’ recent efforts to improve livelihoods for farmers of mint and other raw materials. The findings from these new programs will be used to create a blueprint of interventions that Mars can scale across the cocoa supply chain.

Working with a network of leading organizations—including Fairtrade, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Institute for Development Impact (I4DI) and ECOOKIM, a Fairtrade Cooperatives Union that Mars has sourced from for several years—Mars will embark on what it says could be the industry's most comprehensive effort to date designed to address persistent barriers to cocoa farmers’ ability to achieve a living income.

“Ten years ago, Mars decoded the cocoa plant genome for the first time. Today we are aiming to crack the code on a sustainable living income for cocoa farmers to enable them and their families to thrive for generations,” said Barry Parkin, Mars chief sustainability and procurement officer. “Efforts to improve farmer livelihoods based on stopgap measures or single issues in isolation will not create the change that is required. Farmers may understand what needs to be done to improve their crops and their livelihoods but might not have the market support to make those changes. In this new effort, we are committing to help remove the obstacles in their path, particularly lack of access to finance and the need to adapt to climate change.”

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