While once a very private company, Mars is increasingly looking for ways to engage with our communities, government leaders, and other business influencers. How are policy makers going to know about our advances in health and wellbeing if we don’t talk about it? This summer, Mars has stepped up our engagement with key government officials at the National Governors Association, and providing nutrition experts with a closer look at our Mars Food operations and supply chain in the Mississippi Delta Region. Read more about Mars' participation at the National Governors Association, Mars Food's Rice is Nice Tour, and their What You Need to Know event.
Innovating with Purpose: Mars at the National Governors Association
This year’s National Governors Association (NGA) Summer Meeting, which Mars co-sponsored for the fourth consecutive year, saw record attendance with 1,800 participants and 30 sitting governors present. The historic event, from July 13-15 in Providence, Rhode Island, also marked the first time that a foreign Head of State, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, addressed governors, alongside Vice President Mike Pence, Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk, and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Mars had a prominent space among a select group of sponsors at the NGA’s Innovation Pavilion, another first-time feature. The display included an interactive Mars experience highlighting several of Mars’ innovation and policy positions.
Governors and attendees clicked away at touchscreen kiosks that featured Mars U.S. footprint maps with state-by-state statistics including headcount, investments, and innovations at all sites and segments. Even more popular was the sampling of Mars’ confectionery brands, provided in addition to the treats included in attendees’ Mars welcome gift bags (which also included DENTASTIX® dog treats). AMERICAN HERITAGE™ historical chocolate and Mars Ice Cream were prominently featured throughout the weekend’s social events and each governor received NGA-branded MYM&M’S® candies.
Mars met with a total of 26 of the 30 governors in attendance, as well as several foreign dignitaries. Outgoing NGA Chair and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe took special note of Mars’ reputation in his home state, telling the NGA audience that Mars is “one of the greatest companies in America.” Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, the new NGA Chairman, invited Mars to work with him on a platform that includes energy and sustainability issues.
“As always, the NGA allowed us to tell the story of our substantial U.S. footprint across 43 states by strengthening our existing relationships with Mars governors, while building new connections with recently-elected governors,” said Mark Broadhurst, Director of Government Affairs & Public Policy. “Nurturing these relationships earns us a great deal of goodwill as we advocate to advance our growth.”
Nutritious Food for Thought during Mars Food’s “Rice is Nice” Tour
In July, Mars Food hosted the third annual “Rice is Nice” tour, a two-day event inviting registered dietitians and media to Memphis, Tennessee, and Greenville, Mississippi, to learn more about the company and Mars Food’s brands, including UNCLE BEN’S® and SEEDS OF CHANGE®. Mars Food hosted 15 influencers who contribute to publications including Good Housekeeping, Today.com, Cooking Light magazine, Huffington Post, Health magazine, and more.
The first day took place in Memphis and focused on Mars Food’s Health & Wellbeing and sustainability commitments and the company’s global and domestic impact.
On the second day, attendees traveled to Greenville to get a first-hand look at how Mars Food’s rice products are manufactured. Attendees were welcomed by Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons and were interested to learn about Mars Food’s Associates’ contributions to the community through the Mars Volunteer Program (MVP).
Following a tour of the Mars Food factory, the group traveled to a Mars Food rice supplier’s farm. Farmers demonstrated the planting and harvesting process and spoke about Mars Food’s collaboration with our suppliers to achieve our goal to source all of our rice more sustainably by 2020.”
Liz Shaw, a dietitian on the trip, was delighted to be included. “It's amazing to see such a large company advocate for health and wellness, beginning with their investment in engaging families to cook together. I'm looking forward to watching Mars Food continue to be the pioneer of their nutrition and environmental protection initiatives!”
What You Need to Know About Food Labeling and Sodium with Mars Food
Mars Food hosted its What You Need to Know event at the Greenville, Mississippi facility as part of its efforts to advance Associate health and wellbeing. The event, aimed at reaching Associates with information about nutrition and wellness, takes place three times a year at different Mars Food North America locations. The Greenville event focused on the importance of understanding food labels.
While the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) on food packages can be confusing to consumers, recent regulatory changes to the NFP will improve how nutritional information is communicated on products. The Greenville event focused on helping Associates understand how to interpret the revised label, as well as taking a closer look at sodium levels in Mars Food meals.
Mars Food is currently working to reduce sodium in its products to align sodium levels with the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria, based on World Health Organization guidance. Mars Food Associates enjoyed hearing about ways they could reduce their sodium intake and how the new NFP is an innovative take on an old idea.
“Our Health & Wellbeing initiative is something we’re really proud to be working toward,” said Caroline Sherman, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars Food North America. “We have a responsibility to be transparent, not only with our consumers, but also with our own Associates. It’s important to dedicate time inward, toward our own health.”