Mars delivers major $42 million investment in new Chicago snacking R&D facilities

An ambitious $42 million investment has been made by Mars into creating an advanced snacking global research and development its Goose Island campus in Chicago, US, as the company aims to double its category business within a decade, reports Neill Barston.

According to the firm, the 44,000 square-foot facility, one of seven around the world, will be dedicated to chocolate and nut testing, as well as nut testing and a focus on creating wider innovation within its multi-billion international portfolio.

Notably, the new facilities will enable a total of ’ 300 R&D Associates in Chicago to create and refine new products before they are scaled at large around the globe, and follows in the wake of product range extensions revealed at the last Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago last May.

The city has played an integral role in the company’s history, after opening its first major factory there in 1929. Furthermore, it was also the longtime home of the Wrigley Company, the Chicago-born firm known for its gum and fruity confections, which Mars acquired in 2008.

As the company explained, the site will centralise crucial innovation components under one roof while also serving as a testing ground for future-focused, sustainable ingredients. Recipes will be perfected in small batches in the plant’s contemporary test kitchen, while the flexible bar line, which mimics factory conditions, will allow Mars Snacking Scientists to hone the process of bringing new products to scale.

Furthermore, it also confirmed that an additional dedicated nut facility inside the plant will also enable next-generation testing, evaluation and application of peanuts and tree nuts within its products. This is seen as key to brands such as Snickers, M&M’s and Kind, with the latter also seeing major linked investment this month, courtesy of a $237 million investment delivering Nature’s Bakery facilities.

The company’s latest global facilities in Chicago join an extensive list of sites around the world that includes innovation centres in Guangzhou, China; Huariou, China; Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; and Slough, United Kingdom.

Mars Snacking Global unveils the new Mars Global Research and Development Hub during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, January 18, 2024 in Chicago. The new 44,000 square foot, $42 million facility is the largest Mars research and development hub in the world. (John Konstantaras/AP Images for Mars)

Andrew Clarke, Global President, Mars, welcomed the significant investment in its facilities, which he anticipated would have a notable impact on delivery of product ranges around the world. He said: “This state-of-the-art facility will serve as the epicentre for the kind of groundbreaking research and development that will shape the snacking category for generations to come,“Innovation has been at the heart of our success for over 100 years, and this significant investment reaffirms our unwavering commitment to staying ahead of the curve.

“With an assembly of trailblazing Associates, pioneering partnerships that ignite our creativity and unparalleled technology at our fingertips, we will continue to push boundaries in our relentless pursuit of delivering extraordinary experiences for our consumers around the world.”

As the business added, the delivery of the new facilities has been created to stay ahead of the R&D curve within a fast-evolving snacks market, with the site being instilled with strong sustainability credentials. This includes being powered with 100% with renewable energy which is fossil-fuel free and covered by renewable energy credits from Mars’ wind farm in Ford Ridge, Illinois.

“I applaud the dedicated team behind the Mars Global Research & Development Hub,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “With a commitment to sustainable innovation, this state-of-the-art facility not only doubles down on Mars’ century-long legacy, but cements Chicago’s status as an epicenter for food innovation and propels us to new heights on the global stage.”

“As Mars marks the opening of a new chapter, I am thrilled to join the resounding applause of the Chicagoland region’s business community in congratulating company leadership and team for the opening of the Mars Global Research & Development Hub,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago. “In a region already renowned as the epicenter of food-related production and innovation, the arrival of the Mars Research & Development Hub propels Chicagoland to even greater heights. We commend Mars for its unwavering commitment to our city and region, and we are eagerly poised to witness the profound impact this expansion will have, cementing Chicagoland’s undisputed global standing as the ultimate crucible of food innovation.”


Related content

Leave a reply

Confectionery Production