Mars Wrigley breaks ground on game-changing Chicago research and development site

US-headquartered Mars Wrigley has broken ground on its major new global research and development hub adjacent to the company’s existing Global Innovation Centre based at Goose Island, Chicago, writes Neill Barston.

As the business explained, the move has been designed to offer a significant boost to its new product creation capabilities, as it continues to expand its interests across the sector.

Confectionery Production reported from last month’s Sweets & Snacks Expo which saw the company claim honours for its latest innovations, which it aims to continue building upon.

Leaders from Mars as well as key Chicago stakeholders, including Michael Fassnacht, CEO, World Business Chicago, and Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., gathered together to commemorate the milestone for the company.

This multimillion-dollar investment will make Chicago home to the company’s largest innovation hub in the world, creating a best-in-class workplace that will position Mars Wrigley to drive category-leading innovations for the company’s iconic global snacks and treats brands such as M&M’S, SNICKERS, TWIX, and more. The new facility will incorporate a test kitchen for developing new products, state-of-the-art pilot lines, and an area for breakthrough technology development.

At the event, Chris Rowe, Global Vice President of Research and Development, Mars Wrigley, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 attendees about how the new hub reinforces Mars’ continued commitment to Chicago. “Mars has a long history here in Chicago, and we’re proud to continue our legacy of innovation in the Chicagoland area by breaking ground on our best-in-class global research and development hub for Mars Wrigley,” Rowe said. “As a leader in snacking and treating, we look forward to Chicago being the centre of exciting, consumer-driven innovations that span the globe.”

“On behalf of Mayor Lightfoot and Chicago’s business community, we congratulate Mars on today’s groundbreaking of its innovation centre,” said Michael Fassnacht, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, and Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “Chicago’s food innovation ecosystem is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. with record investments and innovation. We are grateful to Mars for its longstanding commitment to the Chicago community, and excited to see Mars help drive Chicago’s resonance for food innovation throughout the world.”

“Mars has been a respected part of the Goose Island community for the past 17 years,” said Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. “I am thrilled to see Mars deepen its commitment to Goose Island with the groundbreaking of this new facility.”

The investment will bring about thirty (30) additional jobs to the Mars Wrigley Global Innovation Center, with jobs on the Mars Goose Island campus nearing 1,000. The project is slated to be complete by summer 2023.

Chicago significance

As the company explained, Chicago has, and will continue to play, an important role for Mars and its iconic history of playing a prominent role within the confectionery sector.

Its operations in the Chicagoland area also include an ice cream facility in Burr Ridge, where Mars makes Dovebar, M&M’S Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, and Snickers Ice Cream Bar and Yorkville’s treats production of LIFE SAVERS and Gen-Z’s favourite candy brand, Skittles. The company also produces a variety of filled bar chocolate, including Snickers at its Chicago manufacturing site. At its Goose Island campus, Mars employs about 950 Associates from Mars Wrigley, Mars Food, and Mars Global Services.

Earlier this year, Mars announced the future community donation of its Chicago manufacturing site. 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 honoured to partner with Mars and support community engagement efforts for this notable land donation,” said Meghan Harte, LISC Chicago Executive Director. “We’ll leverage our expertise to support Chicago residents, local leaders, and Mars in defining and moving forward a community vision for the site that will deliver clear benefits to residents of Galewood and the city’s West Side.”

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