Predrag Milincic, Market Director of Mars Bulgaria: Nutrition Trends on the Industry Challenge the Food Producers All Over the World
Predrag Milincic is a market director of Mars Bulgaria and also of the other countries from the region – Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania. Before joining the team of the food producer he worked for Coca Cola for 15 years. Predrag Milincic holds a master degree on management from Sheffield University.
Healthy eating and lifestyle are becoming more and more popular in а large part of the world. How does a company like Mars respond to this trend?
Consumers’ health and well-being is a key priority for Mars. Our company is constantly striving to respond to the needs of modern people and to provide them transparency and healthier choices. We produce some of the most beloved brands in the world like Mars, Snickers, Twix, M&M’s, etc. and we are entirely focused on improving their nutrition value. For example, we have reduced industrially produced trans fats in all our chocolate products to technically unavoidable minimal levels. Mars is also working with industry groups and regulators in Europe and the U.S.A. to ban use of partially hydrogenated fats in foods. In addition, we want to help consumers regulate their calories intake and that is why we have established a single serving size with less than 250 kcal.
Mars has a lot of initiatives, aiming to achieve more transparency in labelling, so that people could make an informed choice and select the right products for them and their families.
Are you expecting any crucial changes regarding the food production given the wide spreading of trends such as veganism, vegetarianism, higher bio products consumption, etc.?
We observe that people’s nutrition preferences are changing and that is why we are trying to address their concerns and needs with real actions. All activities Mars undertakes are based on sound scientific evidence and real consumer demand and thus we manage to respond to the current trends. Of course, we will continue further developing our policies, in order to contribute to consumers’ health and well-being all over the world.
If I have to make a more general overview of the impact of some nutrition trends on the industry, I would say that they challenge the food producers all over the world, but at the same time boost their creativity and commitment to the needs of consumers.
A few months ago a European research proved that one and the same food products in Western and Eastern Europe have a different content. What is your opinion about this policy?
It is very important to interpret and understand this topic itself and the results of the research correctly. The study confirmed that there is no evidence of an “East-West” divide in the quality of food and the differences that were found were not related to quality but rather to the reasons that can be logically explained (for example, different tastes of consumers, different manufacturing facilities, etc.).
We, at Mars, welcome the European Joint Research Centre’s analysis as it clearly confirms that we apply the same quality across all of our manufacturing sites regardless of where they are based or where our products are distributed.
Quality of products, consistently meeting standards of excellence and value for our consumers are at the core of our philosophy at Mars. No matter if we offer our products in Eastern or Western Europe or anywhere else in the world, they meet the same quality and safety requirements while providing consumers with a great taste. And this is exactly what the study confirmed.
Mars’s products have been popular on the Bulgarian market for decades, but recently their number has increased. Tell us more about the latest brand, launched in Bulgaria.
Mars has been on the Bulgarian market for 25 years now. Our impressive portfolio is represented in the country by gum and confectionery brands such as Snickers, Twix, Mars, Bounty, Orbit, 5, M&M’s, Skittles and by pet food products such as Whiskas, Pedigree, Sheba, Cesar etc. Mars is also a large producer in food category and one of our most emblematic brands is Uncle Ben’s.
Our brands have a very strong position on the market. Especially, our confectionary products bring joyful moments to consumers of all ages, so I am happy that now they can enjoy one more top brand from our abundant portfolio – Maltesers. Honestly, this is my favourite Mars product, because it is crunchy, light and very, very delicious. It is the best selling chocolate in England and one of the top 3 in all European countries in which it is present. I like Maltesers not only because of the taste, but also because of the story behind the brand. It encourages people to be more positive and to share moments of delight.
Can we expect other new products in the future?
One of Mars’s key priorities on the Bulgarian market is to expand our portfolio and to offer consumers abundant choice.
Maltesers isn’t the only new brand we launch on the market this year. By the end of 2019, a new chewing gum product will be available in the retail network in Bulgaria, which will be the first Mars gum product launch for 10 years now. The other 2 new brands are in the pet care segment. One of them is Perfect Fit, which offers Bulgarian pet owners premium cat and dog food of highest quality. The other brand is a product for cat hygiene.
Large companies like yours have been actively demonstrating engagement to social, ecological and other projects. What are the future plans of Mars in this regard?
At the core of Mars’s corporate philosophy is the belief that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today. We want to make a responsible business and to deliver added value for the people, environment and ecosystem in which we operate.
Our company has always been actively committed to solving different problems the world faces, but the culmination of our efforts is our Sustainable in a Generation Plan, launched in 2017. It sets our bold ambitions to ensure the sustainability of our business and the world for the next generation. We are determined to improve our environmental, social and economic impact and to address some of the world's biggest problems identified in the UN sustainable development goals. That is why we are investing billion over the next few years to accelerate progress against urgent threats such as climate change and poverty.
We have achieved some impressive results so far, such as powering with renewable wind energy 100% of our operations in 10 key markets, making more than 90% of our products’ packages recyclable, increasing the revenues of farmers who cultivate ingredients that we are sourcing such as rice, vanilla, etc. These achievements motivate us to continue working hard and fighting some of the serious problems the world faces today.
We know that your company differs from the rest regarding the policies towards employees. Why did you choose this type of policy and what are the results of it?
In Mars we believe that strong team is at the core of our business success. We are a family-owned company with a more than century old history and well-established traditions. All our 125 000 associates around the world follow the five principles of Mars – quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom – and are doing their best to create a world tomorrow in which the planet, its people and pets can thrive.
Our company has a unique employee policy, giving every member of the team the opportunity to work independently and grow and encouraging them to make positive changes. We realize that it is our responsibility to help our associates develop as professionals, but mostly to make them happy and content at their work places. This policy pays off, as we manage to maintain a strong team, motivated to think beyond today, and really think about tomorrow.
The topic for robotization of industries and the risk of reducing the number of employees needed in the companies has been discussed in recent years. How do you see the future from this perspective?
Mars is strongly focused on implementing new technologies and introducing innovative practices in order to improve its operations and the quality of its products. However, what we do believe is that the real power belongs to the people. Robotization is thought to be the future, but I would say that people are the future, because every business needs a heart and a soul. In Mars we are one big family. We appreciate every single associate and owe every success to their hard work and commitment.
Author: Kristian Kosturkov, Econ.bg
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