Mars Wrigley's Procurement-Sustainability 'Balancing act'

Mars Wrigley Chief Procurement & Sustainability Officer Amanda Davies explains how the food giant excels at both strategic sourcing and sustainability

Amanda Davies has seen a generational shift in both procurement and sustainability. The Chief R&D, Procurement and Sustainability Officer at Mars Wrigley is uniquely positioned at the global giant to see the virtuous circle between the two business areas and how they can power the other. 

She says we need to be “fanatical” about addressing climate change issues, prioritising performance over ambition. 

“We are the first generation of leaders who can’t say we didn’t know about climate change, and the last generation who can act before it’s too late,” she explains.

“As our Net Zero Roadmap outlines, achieving net zero by 2050 is possible, but it’s imperative that we act now.”

The Mars Net Zero Roadmap is the company's strategy for a more sustainable future, including a target to cut carbon in half by 2030 across its full value chain. Davies has a 360-degree perspective of these efforts, as her unique role combines commercial, sustainability and R&D responsibilities. Her teams work with more than 15,000 suppliers, and must balance sourcing available materials with the need to meet sustainability objectives.

“At Mars, sustainability isn't just a concept – it's ingrained in our culture and operations,” says Davies.  “We’re investing US$1bn over the next three years and we're committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 with significant milestones along the way. We've already made substantial progress, reducing GHGs in absolute terms by 8%—or 2.6 million metric tons—against a 2015 baseline, while growing the business 60%.”

By closely aligning environmental performance with wider business performance, Davies feels it is an evolution of transitional business practices.  

Integrated approach to carbon reduction,

“We're taking an integrated approach to carbon reduction,” she adds. “My carbon pipeline sits alongside my financial performance, meaning the person signing the cheques is also in charge of sustainability and innovation.

“Procurement at Mars isn't just about sourcing. By working to embed sustainability into every part of our operations and engaging in strategic partnerships, we're helping lead the charge towards a more sustainable future.”

Mars places great emphasis on collaborating with partners and suppliers to fuel its sustainability journey.  It participates in initiatives such as the Supplier Leadership on Climate Transition coalition, as well as working with the dairy industry and academic institutions to help find scalable solutions to meet global challenges.

Davies believes the Mars approach to procurement strategy extends far beyond simply sourcing materials and ingredients. 

“It plays an important role in enhancing various aspects of our wider supply chain operations – from raw materials to supply chain resilience and optimising for carbon and cost,” she continues.

“Building resilience and future-proofing our supply chains means we need to anticipate vulnerabilities and proactively address risks before they materialise. By integrating end-to-end thinking and building strong relationships with our suppliers, our procurement strategy not only aligns with our goal of delivering moments of happiness to our consumers and customers around the world, but also drives operational excellence across our entire supply chain.”

Mars Wrigley: Sustainable procurement strategy

To achieve the dual goals of sustainable procurement and cost optimisation, Davies feels Mars’ strategy helps to establish trust with its suppliers, which is crucial in getting buy-in to the company strategy.  

She admits this is simple in theory, but requires focus and intentional effort.  

“To get the best from our business partners, we build that trust by creating what I like to call strategic intimacy and collaborative advantage,” Davies goes on.

This involves going straight to the source, hearing first-hand from procurement partners to better understand the business needs of both parties.  It’s an approach that lets both parties unlock transformational change together. 

“Getting to know our suppliers, as well as their needs and capabilities, creates that strategic intimacy and drives efficiency and innovation that ultimately helps deliver mutual growth,” says Davies. “And when we take this approach beyond the one-to-one relationship and consider how collectively across our supply chain we can have an impact, that’s when we create collaborative advantage.”

This involves a progression from traditional one-on-one supplier relationships, engaging with multiple stakeholders in the company supply chain, to leveraging the potential of collaborative advantage.  

“I always ask our suppliers, ‘can we go faster? Can we go further?’, and we will go faster and further if we do it together as part of an ecosystem,” Davies adds.

Mars is following a programme of innovation to accelerate its roadmap and have opened a new Global Research and Development Hub in Chicago to help the business meet the challenges of the future.  

This is powered by 100% renewable energy, and allows the company to invest in innovation and next-generation scientific technology.  Ideas like its easily adaptable pilot product line are allowing the company to stay agile in meeting the needs of customers and supporting supply chains.  

Rise of AI and holistic approach 'key to Mars growth'

The rise of AI is also a consideration for Davies and her leadership team.  

“One of the challenges I see is that, while advancements in AI and machine learning will enhance analytical capabilities, it's important to also power up the right side of our brains – the intuitive and creative senses,” Davies contends. “This holistic approach to leadership development will be key to driving progress in procurement and beyond.”

With procurement and sustainability strategies so entwined, Davies sees the two as mutually beneficial, with her umbrella role over the two divisions allowing for greater collaboration in aligning the sourcing strategy at Mars.

“I measure carbon reduction initiatives with the same rigour and cost savings we put towards procurement,” she says.

“The emerging trend I’m seeing is the growing expectation to hold ourselves accountable for performance rather than setting ambitious goals. This aligns with the fundamental value of procurement, where measurement and evaluation are key.”

Her mantra in this area is “performance not promises”.  The Mars approach is to turn aspirations into tangible actions and measurable outcomes.  

Davies concludes: “We focus on how our sustainability efforts can generate results and help drive meaningful impact across our supply chains and beyond.”

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