- Mars hired a team of meteorologists to find solutions to the impact of weather and climate change on the chocolate industry, Business Insider reported.
- The meteorologists analyze global weather plans to inspire more informed decisions about the company's supply chain and ingredient sourcing, Katie Johnson, a senior manager on the commercial applied research team, told Business Insider.
- Mars' meteorologist team focuses on both near-term weather forecasting, such as how El Nino or La Nina might impact California's almond crops, and weather patterns months and years down the line, such as the potential impact of global warming.
Because of the nature of chocolate and its ingredients, weather patterns and climate change impact not only ingredient sourcing, but also shipment and transportation of the finished product to retailers and consumers. Chocolate is more likely to melt when shipped in warm weather, and refrigerated shipping can be prohibitively expensive. That's particularly true for smaller e-commerce sales shipped directly to consumers versus bulk orders from retailers.
Last January, Hershey put out a call to crowdsource ideas that would enable the company to better ship chocolate during the warmer months so the products don't melt. Gel packs are a common solution, but they add to shipping costs, which can become prohibitive and hinder sales, or eat into the manufacturer's profits. Hershey announced the contest's Phase 1 winners in April, and Hershey will announce the final winners pending the efficacy of prototype submissions later this month.
What Mars is doing with its meteorologist team could be helpful for both the company and the entire industry if the insights are actionable on a larger scale. Mars has already proven its commitment to sustainability initiatives internally, and this could be the next step toward having a broader impact on sustainability in the food industry.