Working at one of the UK’s most iconic chocolate manufacturers is the best job in the world according to Adam Grant, General Manager of Mars Wrigley UK. Over the past few years, he has had the opportunity to grow some of the UK’s best loved brands, such as Galaxy, EXTRA, Maltesers and Skittles, having previously held the position of Regional Vice President, UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Ireland, for food and beverage manufacturer Danone, where he spent nearly 20 years.
But Mars UK goes much further than just the iconic Mars Bar, whether it’s looking after the health of your pet, inspiring moments of everyday happiness through snacks, or supporting family nutrition with delicious balanced meals, with Mars Foods. The brand is part of the furniture in Britain, having been a part of UK households for over 90 years. With that understanding, the company knows that it is setting a standard of sustainability.
What does sustainability look like at Mars Wrigley UK?
It is an exciting time to be GM of Mars Wrigley in the UK and I have made it my responsibility to ensure we think about sustainability in every business decision we make. Through partnerships, science, and immediate action I believe that we can both grow the business and accelerate to net zero.
The UK is leading in its sustainability efforts. In just a few years in the UK we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by sourcing 100% renewable electricity across all our UK manufacturing sites, led on packaging developments, and been working hard on our cocoa supply chain to prevent deforestation.
We know there is a lot more to do and I’m incredibly proud that Mars is taking bold action to reduce GHGs emissions not only across our business but also in our full value chain. I look forward to delivering positive change through ambitious commitments and action in our market.
The next few years will be fundamental in achieving net zero. Every business globally, including us, has a massive responsibility to deliver on our promises and as Mars Wrigley UK GM I am passionate about leading by example through ambitious commitments and action in our market.
What steps can food companies like Mars take to embed sustainability into the foundations of business?
At Mars, we recognise that business is a powerful driver for good – we’ve always been driven by this ethos, and we think in generations, not quarters, so lasting impact is always a key priority.
What many people don’t know is that we’re also a family-owned business and have been for more than a century. That means we have autonomy over the way we do business, always sticking to our Five Principles - Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom – guiding us to strive for a better world, placing great value on our relationships and responsibilities.
Looking at the road ahead, outlined in our new Net Zero Roadmap, we are committed to real, meaningful progress. For us, this means having both technical experts who know what works when it comes to sustainability and marketers who bring these ideas to life through our brands. Our Associates range from marine biologists to rice buyers, pet neurosurgeons and packing specialists – we have a huge breadth of expertise to make genuine impact. Our packaging journey over the past few years is a great example of this. We’ve made significant strides to look at how we use virgin plastics across the UK business including our recent paper packaging pilot for Mars bar in the UK, as well as Mars Petcare’s move to remove 180 tonnes of plastic from cans of Pedigree, Whiskas, Chappie and Kitekat in the UK every year.
It's not been easy, but one thing we’re big on is transparency - we can all benefit from sharing lessons learned along the journey with each other across the business and industry. Our roadmap clearly and powerfully demonstrates what Mars is doing to help tackle climate change, at scale. In fact, our Mars Net Zero Roadmap serves as an open-source strategy that other companies can use to start making meaningful Net Zero action right now.
What challenges do they currently face?
Balancing sustainability amongst many other competing business priorities and resourcing challenges can be difficult. But here’s the deal – businesses must keep sustainability front and centre to compete both for consumers and to attract and keep talent.
We know there is no place for exceptions or excuses and that we need to ensure performance is prioritised over promises. In developing our Net Zero Roadmap we found that our plans and targets were not only possible to deliver, with existing science and technology, but they were entirely affordable too.
There are no shortcuts here. We’re talking about big structural shifts that can take many years to come to fruition. While such challenges may impact the pace of progress, we at Mars are committed to scaling up solutions where they exist and to test, learn, partner and advocate where they don’t. In short, we know that we can grow our business and cut our emissions – we’re not just about making money, we’re about making a difference too, and our consumers and Associates want both.
What benefits can a successful sustainability strategy have for businesses like Mars?
Protecting our planet tomorrow starts with how we do business today. This vision is at the heart of our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, working towards a healthy planet, where people and pets thrive, and society is inclusive. Our Net Zero Roadmap isn’t just about doing better; it’s about doing what is necessary.
We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good for business. Creating mutual benefits for the people in our supply chain and mitigating our impact on the environment are sound business choices. An example from another of our brands is Galaxy’s commitment to responsibly sourced cocoa and support for people in our supply chains.
Progress will be imperfect, but the roadmap demonstrates that the business case to act now is both achievable and affordable.
How much autonomy do geographic regions - like Mars UK - have on the wider strategy and targets of global businesses?
Sustainability touches every part of the business. Our thinking is global but, we’re realising projects and initiatives at a regional and local level. This is especially true here in the UK where we really kickstarted our sustainability in 2016 with the Moy Wind Farm where Mars agreed to buy its electricity from Eneco UK's Moy Wind Farm, a company that generates its power from wind turbines in the Highlands.
Since then and moving forward to this year, Mars has been investing in packaging innovation - from increasing recycled packaging content to exploring innovative alternatives to plastic – such as our in-store Bean Board trial in Tesco stores, to pilot a new material made from cocoa bean shells for promotional displays. Mars UK has also invested in reductions to its carbon footprint through new and improved logistics and fulfilment centres – including the opening of the London Thames Gateway facility, in partnership with DHL, which will reduce Mars UK’s logistics carbon footprint by 7.7% and remove a million miles a year from roads.
We know there is a lot more to do, but we’re committing to taking big strides towards our goals and I’m incredibly proud that Mars is taking bold action to reduce GHGs emissions across the business. we’re putting sustainability at our core; improving our environmental footprint, operating and sourcing responsibly and bringing more innovative, sustainable choices to consumers across the country.