Dale Creaser, Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Mars Food & Nutrition, shares the passion behind the organization’s purpose

Mars Food & Nutrition, headquartered in London, is a segment of family-owned Mars, Incorporated. With over 2000 Associates dedicated to delivering its purpose: Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow, Mars Food & Nutrition’s products are enjoyed in more than 30 countries around the world. Its 15 best-loved brands include household favorites, such as Ben’s Original, MasterFoods®, SEEDS OF CHANGE®, Tasty Bite®, foodspring, DOLMIO® and Kevin’s Natural Foods. 

Mars Food & Nutrition believes access to delicious, nutritious food is fundamental to human wellbeing. The organization helps to make it easier for people to eat healthy meals and explore flavors from around the world, in a way that protects the planet and supports farmers. Passionate about bringing people together to connect over food, the company believes healthy food must be sustainably produced for future generations, which is why it partners with others to drive long-term sustainability through climate smart practices, transforming its supply chain as part of its commitment to Net Zero.

Dale Creaser, Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Mars Food & Nutrition
Dale Creaser, Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Mars Food & Nutrition

“My role is essentially head of supply chain,” begins Dale Creaser, Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Mars Food & Nutrition. “For us, the supply chain is pretty much farm to fork. As such, I look after everything from the procurement of our quality ingredients all the way through the conversion process to the distribution to our consumers at the other end. I’ve been with Mars for 27 years, having worked across all the different segments within Mars, Incorporated and feel really lucky to be in this leadership role. 

“While there’s no such thing as a typical day, there are certain elements to it. There’s typical periodic governance which we approach as a leadership team to ensure that everything is on track and opportunities are being closed out. I also work closely with my team to develop the supply chain and maximize opportunities therein, as we are accountable and responsible for ensuring we secure them. My position in the corporation means I’m lucky enough to collaborate with my peers who are responsible for elements of corporate supply chain strategy. Above all, I love working with our people. We talk about the real strength of our Associates, and we consider ourselves to be passionate foodies. Seldom does a day go by when I don’t learn something from the team that I work with,” he enthuses. 

Counteracting supply chain challenges 

Mars Food & Nutrition uses its portfolio to deliver exciting food experiences to people across the world. “We’ve experienced all manner of different supply chain disruptions over recent years which have been well documented,” Dale continues. “Being able to service our consumers during these disruptions has been a challenge. From the pandemic and geopolitical instability to significant weather events and trade route disruptions, the impact does feel unprecedented. To counteract that cluster of challenges, our role is to develop resilient supply chains, which is a necessity that we’re learning to navigate alongside our many external partners. A great example of that would be trying to avoid single sourcing and giving ourselves a greater number of options. 

“I think the second cluster of challenges really relates to our evolving position in the world. We have a responsibility to the planet, to be better custodians of the world in which we live. While we are faced with the subsequent sustainability challenges, I do consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of Mars, Incorporated. We have some very bold aspirations around our net-zero commitment by 2050, which empowers me to execute behind that strategy, at pace, for Mars Food & Nutrition,” he continues. 

Indeed, Mars, Incorporated is making progress towards reaching Net Zero by 2050 and reducing unsustainable water use by 50 percent by 2025. In addition, it is continuing to work towards 100 percent of its packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable. Mars Food & Nutrition has achieved 89 percent of its primary portfolio meeting that goal.  

Driving sustainability goals 

As owners of one of the world’s biggest and best-loved rice brands – Ben’s Original™ – rice is a critical raw material for Mars Food & Nutrition. The organization is focused on making rice farming more sustainable by reducing the amount of irrigation water, minimizing GHG emissions and increasing yields, as well as bringing about meaningful improvements to the lives of the people in its value chain, enabling them to thrive. 

Two jars of Dolmio sauce“As I said earlier, my remit covers farm to fork, and we need to work collaboratively across our supply chain to drive our sustainability goals. So, one great example is the way in which we’re working closely with a sixth-generation rice farmer in Arkansas, the Whitaker family. In collaboration with this amazing family and farm, we’ve been able to work on reducing GHG emissions and reducing water usage. Paddy fields are huge expanses of flooded land, and one of the things the Whitakers do brilliantly well is they adopt a sustainable agricultural process. That means they don’t keep a paddy field flooded, they saturate it, then dry it, and then saturate it again. This process can maintain yields while  significantly reducing the amount of water usage by as much as 30 percent. It also minimizes the methanation process which is hugely positive from a GHG emissions perspective too.  

“I love our purpose: Better Food Today. A Better World Tomorrow. It’s super simple but means a lot to all 2000 of us. At the start of 2021, we set out purpose commitments, with a new ambition of delivering 5.5 billion healthy meals a year by 2025. Through this, we aim to deliver four billion servings of vegetables, a 30 percent increase in fiber and an additional five percent sodium reduction across our portfolio. We’re ahead of some of those targets, so, we’re really proud of both the commitments and our performance against them to date.” 

Mars Food & Nutrition’s progress has been driven by a combination of reformulation efforts, optimization of the portfolio and implementing product innovation that meets the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria (MFNC), which includes targets for calories, added sugar, sodium and fat content. Adopting widely agreed upon nutrition recommendations issued by the World Health Organization and other leading public health authorities, Mars Food & Nutrition is continuing to address global dietary issues, such as lack of fiber and micronutrients, with a strong focus on vegetables and whole grains and the important role of gut health. 

Championing climate-smart practices 

The organization believes everyone working within its extended supply chains should earn sufficient income to maintain a decent standard of living and is committed to ensuring that 100 percent of rice farmers in its supply chain at risk of poverty are reached by programs designed to enable them to thrive. 

“Another partnership of which we’re incredibly proud involves reviving rural farming. Mars Food & Nutrition has funded the Sustainable Agriculture and Rice Initiative (SARI) program since 2018, implemented by the German development organization GIZ. Through this program, 1450 farmers, 70 percent of whom are women, have been taught sustainable rice production techniques aligned with the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) standard. The program emphasizes climate-smart practice and has enabled farmers to increase their yields by nearly 16 percent and reduce their water usage by 30 percent in 2022. This has led to higher income for the farmers and an opportunity for more investments in their businesses. So, together, these types of partnerships are really starting to move the needle,” Dale elaborates. 

“We are a purposeful business, and one of the things that’s important when we’re working with startups is alignment on purposeful beliefs. We’ve recently been humbled by the fact that Kevin’s Natural Foods has joined us. We acquired that business in August 2023. Through conversations with Kevin, one of the entrepreneurial founders, what is clear is that he wants to learn from our years of experience in supply chain to enable continued purposeful growth. It’s a wonderful place to be for all of us within the organization and a huge energizer. 

“Looking to the future, I think we’re all aligned on one thing, and that is the need to tackle challenges together. The solutions of tomorrow will be supported by the amazing talent that we can attract today. We’ve recognized that young talented people aspire to work for businesses that are purposeful and transparent. We listen to our new graduates who are looking for development opportunities and strive to excite and meet their needs. Being a part of Mars Food & Nutrition is wonderful.
It’s a curious and dynamic place to be, building the leaders of tomorrow who  will help to deliver on the needs of the future,” he concludes.