Mars Inc. teams with Jerusalem Venture Partners to support food-tech startups focused on wellness, agriculture and nutrition

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty
Source: Getty
Mars Inc. may be best known for its confections, but the global food giant is taking a closer look at personalized nutrition as a “critical focus” area for its new Mars Edge segment, which is dedicated to human health through targeted nutrition, according to the company.

“We believe personalized nutrition is becoming a game changer for the way consumers eat and that there is a huge potential for personalized nutrition to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of each of us,”​ a Mars spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.

The spokesperson explained that “consumers are largely driving this trend as they increasingly look for personalized offerings, while placing greater focus on wellness. At the same time, science, data and technology are enabling this trend, giving us the possibility to gain insights into an individual’s health status and goals, lifestyle, and behaviors and to offer individualized diet and lifestyle recommendations.”

The spokesperson added that by being on the leading edge of personalized nutrition, Mars Inc. can help people “identify and access food products, supplements and services that deliver nutrition that addresses health and lifestyle needs.”

Help wanted: Mars teams with Jerusalem Venture Partners

But to fill this role and meet this emerging demand, Mars Inc. recognizes it cannot succeed alone, which is one reason why earlier this month the company partnered with Jerusalem Venture Partners to create a first-of-its-kind research and development agreement in Israel that will “explore the converging fields of food, health and technology fueling the next generation of agriculture and nutrition,”​ according to the company.

Through the partnership, Mars will work with leading Israeli academic institutions to support Israeli start-ups and emerging companies with a shared goal of finding ways to feed the growing population in a sustainable way that protects the environment – including through personalize nutrition.

“At Mars, we are always looking for ways to translate cutting edge science into next generation products and services. This partnership with JVP will help us access and develop solutions to global challenges in the food system in one of the world’s strongest innovation hubs,”​ the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson explained that Mars Edge, which is one of Mars Inc.’s newest businesses, decided to team with JVP after it met with food and nutrition startups in Israel and representatives of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

“The team left energized and excited about the possibility,”​ the spokesperson said. “As part of our active scanning for partners, Mars Edge connected with JVP and saw a real opportunity. JVP’s track record in being a leader in pioneering new investment areas, and in doing so with a focus on impact investing resonated with us.”

The spokesperson added that Mars Edge is continuing to look for other partners that can help shape the emerging personal nutrition industry, and in particular balance the “desire to meet the needs of consumers, be evidence based and create a vibrant business for the future.”

‘Climate change is a real, tangible threat’

In addition to focusing on personalized nutrition, Mars Inc. also will work with JVP and others to pursue sustainable food production solutions that protect the environment and will slow or mitigate climate change.

“Climate change is a real, tangible threat to any business that wants to have resilient supply chains,”​ the spokesperson said, adding that Mars Inc. already is seeing the impact of climate change on sourcing raw ingredients.

That is why Mars Inc. set out aggressive goals in its Sustainable in Generation Plan to ensure the sustainability of its business and the world for the next generation.

“We are investing $1 billion over the next few years to extend our focus deep in our extended supply chains, within our direct operations and, where impactful, with customers and consumers, too,”​ the spokesperson said.

Specifically, the spokesperson said, Mars Inc. is wants to explore how technological and scientific advances in agriculture could “make crops like mint, tomatoes, cocoa and peanuts higher yielding, more nutritious and more resistant to climate change and disease.”

To that end, the spokesperson added, Mars Inc. has already made “great progress in decreasing water use and increasing farmer income in mint growing”​ and rice.

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