Mars Opens $42M Snack-Focused R&D Facility in Chicago

The site will focus on chocolate and nut testing, research and innovation.

The flexible pilot line at the new Mars snacking R&D hub in Chicago.
The flexible pilot line at the new Mars snacking R&D hub in Chicago.

Mars on Thursday opened a new research and development hub at its campus on Chicago's Goose Island that serves as the headquarters for the company's snacking business. The 44,000-square-foot, $42 million facility will be dedicated to chocolate and nut testing, research and innovation.

Mars hopes to double its snacking business over the next 10 years. The site will be the new home for some 300 employees who will work to create and refine new products to add to the company's multi-billion-dollar snacking portfolio.

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The new site will bring several innovation components under a single roof while also serving as a testing ground for future-focused, sustainable ingredients. According to Mars, recipes will be perfected in small batches in the plant's contemporary test kitchen. At the same time, the flexible bar line, which mimics factory conditions, will allow snack scientists to bring 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.

The new facility will be completely powered by renewable energy that is fossil-fuel-free and covered by renewable energy credits from Mars' wind farm in Ford Ridge, Illinois.

Mars has a long history in the city. The company opened its first large-scale factory in Chicago in 1929.

Earlier this week, Mars announced a $237 million investment in Utah to boost production for its Nature's Bakery brand. The expansion will create more than 190 jobs.

The company has six other innovation sites worldwide, including locations in Guangzhou, China; Huariou, China; Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania; and Slough, United Kingdom.

David Mantey is the editorial director of digital media at IEN. With more than 15 years of experience in the design engineering and manufacturing space, he is responsible for creating and coordinating digital and multimedia content across the Industrial Media portfolio.

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