Mars has created the role of chief health and wellbeing officer and appointed Debra Sandler, the president of Mars Chocolate North America, to oversee its global health strategy.
Sandler will oversee health initiatives for all Mars’ brands, which span confectionary and savoury foods, and include Skittles, Orbit Gum and Uncle Ben’s.
Her appointment is an emphatic response to the growing pressure on the food and drink sector to combat obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
Sandler is a vocal advocate for bringing change from within the industry, rather than waiting for regulatory change.
Speaking at a National Confectioners Association event last year, she said: "If we don't [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us … Don't wait for regulators to tell us what to do," according to a report on Confectionary News.
She also was instrumental in the launch of Mars brand Goodnessknows – a blend of slow-roasted almonds, fruits and oats that contains no artificial flavours or preservatives.
Mars said the creation of the role was a "reflection of the strategic priority that health and wellbeing represents for Mars".
It added in a press statement: "Mars’ objective is to provide affordable and tasty food that helps feed the world’s growing population, while at the same time partnering with others to tackle challenges including global food security, safety and quality."
Sandler's previous role is being taken over by Mars Global Chocolate chief financial officer Tracey Massey.
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