US-headquartered food manufacturer Mars recently marked 10 years of operations in Saudi Arabia with a special event attended by officials from the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA), US Consulate General Jeddah, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, and King Abdullah Economic City.

The event was graced by Eng Mohammed Al Swailem, Deputy Minister for Industrial Services – Ministry of Industry; Fares Asad, General Consul of the United States in Saudi Arabia; and Nabeel Khoja, Secretary General of the Economic and Special Bonded Zones Authority.

Commenting on the milestone, Blas Maquivar – President, Global Emerging Markets, Mars, said: “Mars' commitment to this region has been unwavering for more than 50 years, as has the kingdom’s support to our operations, activities and ambition. As we look ahead, we remain committed to Saudi Arabia and its vision for sustainability, diversity and localization. Our factory here is a testament to our principles of quality, responsibility and mutuality, operating safely and sustainably with a diverse and thriving team. We look forward to continuing our journey in the Kingdom in a way that fully aligns with the vision of Saudi Arabia.”

Eng Mohammed Al-Swailem said: “The relationship between the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources and the private sector is a strong one and we look forward to more successes in localising technologies and generating job opportunities in accordance with what was stipulated in the National Strategy for Industry to work side by side to build a bright industrial future in our Kingdom in line with Vision 2030.”

Mars History in Saudi Arabia

Speaking about Mars in Saudi Arabia, Obai Rahimi – Corporate Affairs Director Middle East and Africa, said while Mars has been integral to the evolving Saudi landscape for over 50 years, it established a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at King Abdullah Economic City in the Kingdom in 2013, with an initial investment of SAR300 million.

The facility has been instrumental in producing a wide range of Mars' iconic Galaxy chocolates, contributing to the local economy and fulfilling the consumers’ demand for high-quality confectionery in the kingdom.

"Over the years and since the establishment of the manufacturing facility, Mars has continued to invest towards the kingdom, with an additional SAR190 million allocated for the establishment of a repacking line for its chocolate brands. In 2019, the company further expanded its commitment to Saudi Arabia with an investment of SAR83 million to build a cocoa crumb oven, becoming the only Mars factory in the Middle East and Africa region producing such material,” Rahimi said.

Saudi Arabia factory operations

Mars’ Saudi Arabia factory produces 15,000 tons of confectionery per year and 59 different SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). It hosts strong exporting capabilities, with the factory's reach extending far beyond the kingdom's borders, and to 16 destinations across GCC countries as well as Egypt, India and Iraq.

The factory has also achieved high standards of excellence in food safety, hygiene, and Halal certification, and has been awarded a Grade A+ certification by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) as part of the local food manufacturers' evaluation programme.

Focus on DE&I and Sustainability

Saudisation, sustainability, and diversity are critically important components of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. Mars works in alignment with this overarching vision and hosts a team of 79 associates at its Saudi manufacturing site, representing 10 different nationalities. The company has – to date – achieved a Saudisation rate of 65% across all organisational levels, from top management to shop floor associates. Mars is also dedicated to fostering gender diversity, with female representation across its operations in the Kingdom increasing from 4% in 2021 to 15% in 2023, it said.

Sustainability as well is a core focus for Mars; the Saudi Arabia facility was one of the first manufacturing sites in the region to achieve LEED Gold certification for green buildings. It has implemented comprehensive energy and water management initiatives, including optimizing the mold wash process using treated water provided by the city. The factory is also committed to waste management, and has achieved a 100% recycling rate, successfully converting waste into compost and fertilizer, it said.

Looking towards a sustainable future

The Mars’ Saudi Arabia factory has been selected to participate in the second phase of the "Saudi Future Factories" program, a program spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources in Saudi Arabia. This program aims to transform 4,000 factories into operationally and technically advanced facilities, contributing to the kingdom's industrial progress and sustainability goals. 

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