The United States Ambassador to Kenya, HE Meg Whitman, toured the Mars Wrigley chewing gum factory in Athi River in an official visit on Friday.
She recognized the strong and dynamic role that US companies like Mars play in driving trade, investment, and economic development in Kenya, noting that strengthening trade and investment ties between the US and Kenya would be a key area of focus during her tenure.
Amb. Whitman was confirmed in a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate as the eighteenth United States Ambassador to Kenya on July 14, 2022.
“It was a wonderful experience touring the Mars Wrigley factory and seeing the automation, quality control and strong capabilities of the teams working there. Our role is to help create an enabling environment for US companies operating in Kenya and to promote trade and investment between our two nations,” she said.
Ismael Bello, General Manager Sub-Saharan Africa at Mars Wrigley, thanked the ambassador and her team for visiting the site and spending time with associates. “We are always happy to showcase our work. We are particularly proud of the steps we are taking to be sustainable, including cutting energy and water usage at our LEED Gold Certified factory and partnering in a mutual way with local entrepreneurs in informal markets to solve the last-mile distribution challenge,” he said.
Since 2013, Mars Wrigley has actively partnered with local entrepreneurs in Kenya’s urban slums and rural areas to extend its reach to consumers in these markets.
Through this program, dubbed “Maua”, the American multinational has recruited more than 1,000 entrepreneurs nationwide who have contributed positively to sales while transforming their own lives. Around 40% of entrepreneurs in the program are women, in line with the company’s aspiration to help women in the workplace and value chain reach their full potential.
Mars Wrigley is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of chocolate, chewing gum, mints, and fruity confections. It is part of Mars, Incorporated, a US-headquartered family-owned business with more than 120,000 associates in 80 countries around the world, including Kenya. Mars’ global annual revenues have reached almost USD 45 billion, making it one of the most successful consumer goods companies in the world.
The company has a rich heritage in Kenya spanning more than 50 years. It built its first factory in Nairobi’s Industrial Area in 1971, which through the years has produced iconic chewing gum brands like Big G, PK and Juicy Fruit for Kenya and the regional market.
In 2015, it started construction of its new green factory in Athi River, and in 2018 decommissioned the old factory before launching operations at the new one.
The Athi River plant, which cost USD 70 million to set up, produces chewing gum and has a sales office that supports the importation, distribution and marketing of the company’s other gum, confectionery, and chocolate products such as Orbit, M&Ms, Galaxy, Bounty, Skittles, Twix, Mars, and Snickers among others.