Health ‘a strategic priority’ says Mars as it creates specialized health chief role

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Ex Mars Chocolate North America president becomes Mars Incorporated chief health and wellbeing officer
Ex Mars Chocolate North America president becomes Mars Incorporated chief health and wellbeing officer

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Mars has flagged health as a leading priority and has named Debra Sandler, former Mars Chocolate North America president, as chief health and wellness officer for the global company.

“The creation of the Chief Health & Wellbeing Officer role is a reflection of the strategic priority that Health & Wellbeing represents for Mars,”​ said Mars in a statement.

Not ducking out

During her tenure as Mars Chocolate North America president, Sandler was vocal about the industry’s need to address concerns linking confectionery to obesity.

“It’s no longer acceptable for us to duck-out,” ​she said at the National Confectioners Association (NCA) State of the Industry Conference in Miami last year.

“If we don’t​ [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us….Don’t wait for regulators to tell us what to do.”

Massey steps up

Tracey Massey, former chief financial officer for Mars Global Chocolate, will take up the position of Mars Chocolate North America President, vacated by Sandler.

Mars’ existing health initiatives include a 250 calorie cap on single serve confectionery globally and front of pack nutrition labels on all chocolate and confectionery products across the globe.

Obesity concerns

Mars has created the health position amid mounting concern​ linking high sugar products like confectionery to obesity and tooth decay.

Competitor Mondelēz International announced a sweeping health & wellness pledge​ in March this year, while last month, Mondelēz and Nestlé were among 25 manufacturers​ pledging to stop targeted advertising to children under 12 for products that do not fulfill specific nutrition criteria.

In 2007, Mars made a global commitment to stop advertising food, snack and confectionery products to children under 12.

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