USA— Mars Wrigley has broken ground on a new global research and development hub adjacent to the company’s existing Global Innovation Center at Goose Island in Chicago.

On completion of this facility, slated for summer 2023, Chicago will become the largest innovation hub in the world for Mars Wrigley.

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.

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.

Mars Wrigley said that these developments are expected to drive category-leading innovations for its global snacks and treats brands such as M&M’S, SNICKERS, and TWIX, as the company continues to expand its interests across the sector.

At the event, Chris Rowe, Mars Wrigley’s global vice president of research and development, 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 center of exciting, consumer-driven innovations that span the globe.”

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 popular 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.

As the company said, Chicago has, and will continue to play, an important role in Mars iconic history prominence within the confectionery sector.

This new investment will bring about thirty additional jobs to the Mars Wrigley Global Innovation Center, with jobs on the Mars Goose Island campus nearing 1,000.

Concurrent with this, Mars’ long-serving chief executive Grant Reid is set to give up the reins to pet-care division president Poul Weihrauch in September.

Weihrauch first joined Mars in 2000 as the European brand leader for Snickers. He became the global president of Mars Petcare in 2014, and has overseen significant growth in the division, including the US$ 9.1 billion acquisition of animal hospital company VCA in 2017.

Reid, who has worked for Mars 34 years and served as CEO for eight, told the company’s board he intended to retire 18 months ago.

In the food space, Reid oversaw large deals that helped transform Mars. He led the company as it purchased the remaining shares of Wrigley in 2016 and formally combined the two into Mars Wrigley.

In Reid’s time at Mars, sales grew by more than 50% to reach nearly US$45 billion, board chair Frank Mars said in a statement.

He also helped Mars break into new areas, including veterinary health, pet services and healthy snacks, taking a minority stake in healthy-snacking company, Kind in 2017.

This was followed by full acquisition of Kind in 2020, in a deal that reportedly valued the clean label snacking company at US$5 billion.

Considering his achievements in office, including the company’s new research and development hub, it is safe to say Reid is going out on a high note.

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