In 2014, Mars invested big in the Middle East. The company spent $80m on a new manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia to produce Galaxy. It also invested $60m to expand its plant in the UAE, adding a Snickers production line. According to TechSci Research, the UAE is one of the fastest growing chocolate markets globally and is set for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.09% from 2014 to 2019.
However, Mars still sees potential in the developed US market and opened its first new US site in 35 years in March. The $270m factory in Topeka, Kansas will produce M&M’s and Snickers.
In May, Mars along with Hershey and Nestlé triumphed in a US price fixing case that alleged the companies conspired to raise chocolate prices between 2002 and 2007. Mars launched its own legal action against Hershey in April, accusing Hershey of “tricking US consumers with fake Maltesers”.
In 2014, the firm’s R&D team developed a method to process unfermented cocoa beans that it claimed would maintain the final chocolate taste and allow for a more consistent flavor.
The M&M’s maker may also have overcome the problem of natural blue colors in candy. It filed a patent to make natural blue colors derived from anthocyanins resistant to color changes in hard panned confections.
In October the company reintroduced Crispy M&M’s after a 10 year hiatus. Mars also opened an M&M’s World retail store in Shanghai to build brand loyalty in China, where the company already leads the confectionery market with a 40% share. A number Mars’ perennial favorites were also launched in Bites, unwrapped miniature versions of their full-size counterparts, such as Twix, 3 Musketeers, and Milky Way Simply Caramel Bites.
In July, Mars introduced a 7% wholesale price increase for most products in North America. Its price hike was announced later than similar price hikes from Mondelez, Nestlé and Hershey, which all implemented increases beyond North America.