Mars Opens $42M Food R&D Facility

The new snacks hub was designed for future ground-breaking research and snacking innovation.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

January 19, 2024

2 Min Read
Mars opens R&D facility
The new snacking hub will give Mars’ 300 R&D associates in Chicago runway to create and refine new products for the Mars snacking portfolio.Image courtesy of primipil / iStock via Getty Images

Mars has just opened a $42 million Global Research and Development Hub on its Goose Island, IL, campus, the global headquarters of the company’s Snacking business. The site is one of seven Mars global innovation sites around the world.

The 44,000-sq.-ft., facility will be dedicated to chocolate and nut testing, research, and innovation. As Mars looks to double its Snacking business in the next decade, the new facility will give Mars’ 300 R&D associates in Chicago runway to create and refine new products for the company’s multi-billion-dollar snacking portfolio before they are scaled at large around the globe.

The new site will centralize 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.

A dedicated nut facility inside the plant will also enable next-generation testing, evaluation, and application of peanuts and tree nuts within Mars products, key to brands such as Snickers, M&Ms, and KIND bars.

"This state-of-the-art facility will serve as the epicenter for the kind of groundbreaking research and development that will shape the snacking category for generations to come,” said Andrew Clarke, global president, Mars Snacking. “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.”

The facility has been designed with sustainability in mind as well. It will be powered 100% with renewable energy, which is fossil-fuel free, and covered by renewable energy credits from Mars’ wind farm in Ford Ridge, IL.

Chicago has been deeply embedded in Mars’ history from the turn of the 20th century when the company opened its first large-scale factory in the Windy City in 1929. It was also the longtime home of the Wrigley Co., the Chicago-born stalwart known for its gum and fruity confections, which Mars acquired in 2008.

“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."

The Global Innovation Hub will join Mars’ network of existing global innovation sites in Chicago, IL; Guangzhou, China; Huariou, China; Elizabethtown, PA; and Slough, UK.

For an inside look at the new Mars facility, see the video here.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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