Mars is an American multinational company founded in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars.
The company is best known for confectionery products which include its namesake Mars chocolate bar but also Skittles, Snickers, Twix, and Milky Ways, to name a few.
Let’s take a look at some of these diversified interests below.
Pedigree is a pet food brand operating under the subsidiary Pedigree Petfoods.
The company started life as Chappel Brothers in the USA before Mars acquired its British operations in 1934.
It was not until 1972, however, that the brand became known as Pedigree.
Pedigree is one of five billion-dollar brands in the Mars Petcare portfolio. Other brands include Whiskas, Royal Canin, Iams, and Banfield.
The caramel shortbread chocolate bar known as Twix was first produced in the UK in 1967 and became available in the USA some twelve years later.
Twix was known as Raider in European markets before the name was progressively changed between 1991 and 2000.
For the United States market, Twix bars are manufactured in Tennessee alongside M&M’s.
Dolmio is a pasta sauce brand that comes in several different flavors. The brand has a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand with distinctive television commercials that feature puppets known as “The Dolmio Family”.
The first Dolmio product was a spaghetti bolognese sauce launched in 1985 under the name Alora.
It was developed by Anna Ciccone and marketed by Masterfoods, another Mars company with a strong presence in Oceania.
Dolmio quickly spread to the UK in 1986 and is now available in Russia, the Republic of Ireland, and the Nordic countries.
CocoaVia is a cocoa extract supplement designed to be consumed daily and was the first functional food released by Mars in 2003.
CocoaVia products contain plant sterols and cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate bars, granola bars, milk chocolate, ready-to-drink beverages, and chocolate-covered almonds.
The flavanols found in CocoaVia products have been scientifically proven to promote brain performance and increase cardiovascular health.
Seeds of Change
Seeds of Change was founded in 1989 by Gabriel Howearth with a focus on organic seed production.
In later years, the company moved into organic foods such as salad dressings, simmer sauces, rice, and quinoa.
Seeds of Change is a company with a mission to provide food education that is hands-on, evidence-based, and conducted in a safe environment.
Through its FoodCorps service, it aims to increase awareness of nourishing foods among children and encourages them to grow their crops.
Ben’s Original (formerly Uncle Ben’s) is a parboiled rice brand that was first introduced in 1943. However, the origins of the brand can be traced back to 1932 when then-CEO Forrest Mars Sr. moved to the United Kingdom to expand his company’s international presence.
There, he observed that two chemists had invented a rice parboiling method that preserved more of the food’s nutrients and avoided spoilage from weevils.
Mars himself then secured part ownership of the method (known as the Huzenlaub Process) and was initially financed by the U.S. Government to develop rice parcels that could be dropped to soldiers.
Since the 1940s, the brand has tended to capitalize on the storied history of long-grain rice in African-American culture. But it has since diversified into vegetable, Basmati, wholegrain, jasmine, and various flavored rices.
Starburst (formerly Opal Fruits) is a brand of fruit-flavored candy that is today manufactured by Mars subsidiary The Wrigley Company. Starburst was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1960 and came in four flavors: lemon, lime, orange, and strawberry.
The product was introduced into the United States in 1967 as M&M’s Fruit Chewies with a fifth cherry flavor added to the mix. The brand name Opal Fruits was phased out in the 1990s to standardize the candy in a global marketplace.
When Mars merged with Wrigley in 2008 in a deal worth $23 billion, it transferred all non-chocolate candy brands to the newly-formed Wrigley subsidiary.
Royal Canin is a French pet food manufacturer that also conducts research into the breed-specific nutritional requirements of cats and dogs.
The company was founded in 1968 by Jean Cathary, a French veterinary surgeon who stumbled across a homemade remedy for skin disease in his flock of goats.
Mars purchased a 57% stake in Royal Canin in 2001 for around $730 million.
While the company was already a leader in the European pet food market, the deal was seen as a way for Mars to bolster its presence in the rapidly growing premium dry-food segment.
Dove is an American chocolate bar brand that is sold under the name Galaxy in the Middle East, India, Australia, and parts of the United Kingdom. In addition to chocolate bars, other Dove products include milks, cakes, and ice cream.
The brand takes its name from a chain of Chicago-based candy and ice cream shops first introduced by Greek-American Leo Stefanos in 1939. Dove products remained a Chicago institution for decades and were not sold anywhere else in the United States until 1985.
Mars acquired Dove in 1986.
AniCura is an animal hospital and clinic brand in Europe with a core focus on specialized veterinary care for companion animals. Anicura operates over 475 clinics across predominantly Western Europe and employs over 12,000 staff.
The company itself was created in 2011 after an initial merger of vet hospitals in the Nordic region, and AniCura’s headquarters remain in Stockholm today.
To capitalize on the boom in consumer spending on pets, Mars purchased AniCura in 2018 with the deal estimated to be worth as much as $2.36 billion.
History of Mars
Mars is an American multinational company and manufacturer of pet food, confectionery, and other food products and animal care services. The company was founded in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars.
According to Forbes, Mars is the fourth-largest privately held company in the United States with around 140,000 employees and $45 billion in revenue in 2022. Today, the company remains owned by members of the Mars family.
Here is how the company rose to prominence.
Franklin C. Mars first learned how to hand-dip chocolate from his mother Alva, who entertained him in the home kitchen after he was absent from school with a mild case of polio.
In 1902 at just 19 years old, Mars started a candy business and married his first wife Ethel G. Kissack. Both his business and his marriage failed, but in 1910, Mars wed Ethel V. Healy with the pair making and selling butter cream candy from their home in Tacoma, Washington.
In 1920, Mars relocated to Minneapolis and started The Nougat House, a basket candies business that sold chocolate named after his daughter Patricia.
Two years later, the business introduced its first chocolate bar named the MAR-O-BAR, but it was a commercial failure as it spoiled under transportation. The much more successful Milky Way Bar was released the following year.
New products and diversification
In response to the rapid growth of the company, Mars moved to a new suburban factory in Chicago in 1928 which is still in operation today.
Sales quadrupled over the Great Depression, thanks in part to the launch of the Snickers bar in 1930 and the Mars bar in the United Kingdom in 1932. This new UK presence was established by Mars’ son Forrest Edward Mars, a natural entrepreneur who would also be responsible for the debut of M&M’s candies in 1941.
Over the subsequent years, Forrest Mars expanded into pet food and consumer food and made Washington D.C. the company’s new headquarters. Ultimately, he grew the company’s food interests into a larger enterprise than the original confectionery business.
In 1955, various Mars products were offered for the first time in British vending machines.
Forrest Mars retires
Mars instituted a radically egalitarian system where all workers were called associates and, instead of offices, desks were arranged in a wagon wheel pattern to facilitate communication between management levels. As a leader, Mars was notoriously demanding – but he paid some of the best salaries in the industry.
Shortly before his retirement in 1969, Mars worked to expand the company’s pet food aspirations with the acquisition of Kal Kan Foods and the creation of a research center to study the nutritional preferences of animals.
Over the 1970s, Mars battled rival Hershey’s for the number one spot in the American candy market.
Mars relocated its headquarters once more to a custom-built facility in McLean, Virginia, in 1984. The company then added pasta products to its portfolio with the launch of the Dolmio brand in 1985. The next year, Mars entered the frozen snack industry with the acquisition of hand-dipped ice cream maker Dove Bar International.
The rivalry between Mars and Hershey continued into the 1990s, with Mars regaining ground thanks to the introduction of peanut M&M’s. To cater to the nutrition trend in pet food, the company also released the Expert range of premium dog and cat food in 1991.
In the late 1990s, Mars once again lost the top spot to Hershey’s after several failed product launches. Its financial performance also suffered because of the demanding personalities of then-owners John and Forrest Mars Jr. who had appointed three presidents in four years.
Consolidation and expansion
Forrest Mars Sr. died in 1999 aged 95, and there was speculation the company would be sold as his sons had been barred from doing so until his death. However, Mars remained family-owned and consolidated its divisions and agencies (particularly in Europe).
In the early 2000s, Mars found new success with frozen ready meals and was a worldwide marketing force. At this point, the company operated facilities in over 60 countries and was spending $850 million on key brands such as Pedigree, Uncle Ben’s, and Snickers.
In 2008, the company announced that it would be purchasing Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company with Berkshire Hathaway in an all-cash deal worth $23 billion. The Wrigley business was later merged with Mars’ chocolate segment to form the Mars Wrigley Confectionary subsidiary.
Mars now has 22 manufacturing facilities in the United States alone and, in the past few years, has added snack food company Kind North America and fruit snack brand Trü Frü to its vast portfolio.
- Mars is an American multinational company founded in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars. The company is best known for its chocolate confectionery but also has a significant presence in health items, pet care, and consumer food items.
- Pedigree is a Mars brand that has been under the company’s control in one form or another for almost a century, while Dolmio is a pasta sauce brand with a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand.
- Two brands that are housed under the Mars Edge portfolio to improve human health via nutrition include Seeds of Change and CocoaVia.
- Mars is an American multinational company and manufacturer of pet food, confectionery, and other food products and animal care services. The company was founded in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars.
- In response to the rapid growth of the company, Mars moved to a new suburban factory in Chicago in 1928 which is still in operation today. Sales quadrupled over the Great Depression, thanks in part to the launch of the Snickers bar in 1930 and the Mars bar in the United Kingdom in 1932.
- Mars relocated its headquarters once more to a custom-built facility in McLean, Virginia, in 1984 and diversified its interests. The well-documented rivalry between Mars and Hershey continued in the 1990s, with Mars regaining ground thanks to the introduction of peanut M&M’s.
- The company experienced a succession of failures in the 1990s, and despite speculation it would be sold off or made public after Forrest Mars Sr. died, it underwent a period of consolidation before making several significant acquisitions.
Key Brands and Segments:
- Pedigree is a pet food brand that operates under the Mars Petcare segment.
- Originally started as Chappel Brothers in the USA, Mars acquired its British operations in 1934, and it was renamed Pedigree in 1972.
- Pedigree is part of Mars Petcare’s billion-dollar brands, which also include Whiskas, Royal Canin, Iams, and Banfield.
- Twix is a caramel shortbread chocolate bar that was introduced in the UK in 1967 and later in the USA.
- Twix was previously known as Raider in European markets before being renamed between 1991 and 2000.
- Dolmio is a pasta sauce brand with a strong presence in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Russia, Ireland, and Nordic countries.
- It started with a spaghetti bolognese sauce in 1985 and expanded into various products like salad dressings, simmer sauces, rice, and quinoa.
- CocoaVia is a cocoa extract supplement introduced in 2003 by Mars.
- The products contain plant sterols and cocoa flavanols, known to promote brain performance and cardiovascular health.
- Seeds of Change:
- Seeds of Change started as an organic seed production company in 1989 and later expanded into organic foods like salad dressings, simmer sauces, rice, and quinoa.
- The company focuses on food education through its FoodCorps service to increase awareness of nourishing foods among children.
- Ben’s Original:
- Starburst, formerly Opal Fruits, is a fruit-flavored candy brand now manufactured by Mars subsidiary The Wrigley Company.
- It was introduced in the UK in 1960 and expanded to the US in 1967.
- Royal Canin:
- Royal Canin is a French pet food manufacturer that specializes in breed-specific nutritional requirements for cats and dogs.
- Mars purchased a majority stake in Royal Canin in 2001 to bolster its presence in the premium dry-food segment.
- AniCura is an animal hospital and clinic brand in Europe, focusing on specialized veterinary care for companion animals.
- Mars acquired AniCura in 2018 to tap into the growing trend of consumer spending on pets.