Last updated on July 22nd, 2015 at 03:00 pm
Mars Chocolate North America will invest an additional $100 million at its Topeka, Kansas, manufacturing plant that opened just over a year ago.
Mars will build a new 90,000-s.f. facility, creating 70 permanent full-time jobs.
The company says the new investment in Topeka underscores its commitment to manufacturing its products in the U.S. More than 95 percent of Mars Chocolate products sold in the U.S. are manufactured in its nine domestic sites staffed by more than 3,500 associates. This includes roasting peanuts in Albany, Georgia, and roasting cocoa beans in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
“For over a century, Mars has been committed to making our products in the markets where we sell them,” said Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America. “We are grateful for the warm welcome and continued support we have received from Topeka and the state of Kansas, and we are pleased to further invest in the community with additional job creation and economic development.”
Mars’ expansion in Topeka follows the grand opening of the facility in 2014—the first new Mars Chocolate North America site built in the last 35 years.
With this expansion, Mars’ investment in Topeka totals $430 million. The plant already employs more than 200 associates producing a variety of M&M’S brand candies and Snickers bars. The facility is LEED Gold certified and meets Mars’ stringent sustainability standards.
“This additional investment does more than create new well-paying jobs for Kansans, it reflects Mars’ continuing commitment to growing its business in America’s heartland,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. “In little more than one year after the grand opening of its Topeka facility, Mars is expanding its manufacturing operation with a new state-of-the-art facility. The availability of a talented workforce, along with a strong relationship between Mars and state and local leaders, creates an environment for continued economic growth and opportunity.”
The Topeka announcement follows recent announcements by Mars Inc. of additional expansion across the country. In June, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. announced it would be adding 155 new associates at its Flowery Branch, Georgia, facility to support additional sugar-free gum production.
Also in Georgia, Mars Chocolate North America plans to hire 20 new associates in Albany to support the national launch of its goodnessknows® Snack Squares. The launch is set for August and represents the company’s commitment to reduce calories in its treats.
It already has reduced the calories in its single-serve products to less than 250, and in recent months has brought to market a range of new products with fewer than 200 calories. Earlier this year the company brought back M&M’S Crispy at 180 calories per serving; the goodnessknows snacks have 150 calories.
“Our consumers and retailers are demanding even greater choice, seeking more product variety across a range of format, calorie and price options,” added Massey. “By further growing our footprint in the U.S., we will better be able to introduce new treats to satisfy the most diverse consumer appetites.”
Mars announces Christmas lineup
In mid-July, Mars Chocolate North America revealed the items in its Christmas lineup. New items join returning holiday favorites, according to Mars, under the M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way, Dove and 3 Musketeers brands.
New items this year include M&M’s White Peppermint Candies; M&M’s Mint Chocolate Candies Cane; Snickers Baking Bites; Snickers Almond Minis; 3 Musketeers Mint Dark Chocolate Minis; Snickers Minis Cane; M&M’s Milk Chocolate Candies in a Twist ’n Pour dispenser (in featured photo); Snickers Sharing Size Bites; Snickers Tree Singles; Snickers Trees 2-To-Go; and Twix Santas 2-To-Go.
New merchandising and packaging featuring large logos, festive graphics and brightly colored case designs to create excitement and make Mars brands come to life in-store, the company says. Innovative packaging and displays make shopping easier, capture impulse buys and drive sales. Plus, some graphics feature snap-tag coding, giving consumers access to holiday recipes.
Mars supports its seasonal products with national holiday-themed television advertising including the classic M&M’S “Faint” commercial and spots for Dove, Snickers and Twix. Digital advertising, print advertising in national publications, high-value FSIs and POP displays round out the campaign.