Mary Barnard relishes new role as Caobisco President
Becoming the first female president of Caobisco this month representing the European chocolate, biscuit and confectionery market is a task Mary Barnard (pictured) is relishing. Neill Barston speaks exclusively to her regarding her main priorities
As Mary Barnard explains, she is expecting the next two years in post as president to be a rewarding and engaging challenge addressing key industry issues.
It’s a post she has significant related experience for with her other present role as European president of Mondelēz International’s chocolate division. She succeeds Alessandro Cagli, director of Ferrero Group EU public affairs office in Brussels, who remains with the organisation as vice president.
Among central areas of focus for her presidency include contributing to the debate on mindful consumption, and the benefits of providing wider options for consumers. The post will also see her continuing to advocate for the industry in Brussels, and through national associations, across member states.
Speaking to Confectionery Production magazine on her appointment, the new head of Caobisco – which consists of a network of over 400 experts, believed the sector held particularly exciting prospects.
She said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be taking up this role. I’ve talked to Alessandro who was really terrific in the role previously and he has been fully supportive of me. “During my career to date, I’ve worked for the likes of Pepsi and Mondelēz and it’s a fantastic industry to be involved with, from small producers through to major corporations, and it’s that diversity that I’ve loved. “I’m very happy to be taking on the post as the first female president as well, and hopefully I might be a role model for other women who are coming into the industry, which is something that I think is important, but at Mondelēz there’s a lot of diversity in employment.”
As she explained, among the major areas she will take a lead on will be sustainability, and looking at matters such as supply chains of palm oil. She will also advise on at issues of health and wellbeing, in assisting consumers in offering a broader range of snacks and confectionery with healthier options.
She added: “The issue of sugar reduction is of real concern, so we want to be able to help consumers in making choices about how they enjoy eating our products as treats. “I think we’ve made progress on salt reduction in our products, as well as some progress regarding sugar reduction s well, though that is something that’s harder to tackle with confectionery. “One of the solutions which is often easier is looking at portion sizes, which is something that we have focused on.
“From research, we know consumers don’t generally like reformulated products, and they would rather have a smaller piece of something that they really like than eat something that seems to have something missing.”
During her career to date, she has been a strong advocate for the confectionery industry in the UK and has represented both Mondelēz International and the industry in high level meetings with UK and Nordic governments. As she explained, the confectionery and biscuit market is a broad one, and believed that Caobisco had a strong role to play in support its development.
Through her role with Mondelēz, she also highlighted the need for ongoing work on assisting cocoa growing communities. She added: “We started the Cocoa Life programme five years ago now and we now have 120,000 farmers who are active members of this scheme. “I was in Ghana, and spent last November out there getting close to those involved in the project – this is something that is very much embedded into our company now, and it’s an issue that I feel is incredibly important to us.”