Where Does my Food Come From?

Global trade has created supply chains that spider into the far corners of the world. Increasingly, both food-producing companies and consumers want to know where foods come from: was the food produced sustainably? By farmers making a living wage? In an environmentally-friendly way?

Our increasingly connected world has given rise to larger and more complex supply chains and socially conscious consumers who want to know that the products they buy are produced responsibly.  Mars Food has launched a revolutionary supply chain solution that enables them to closely track their global supply chain and give consumers instant insights into where and how their rice was grown. This solution will help the company realize its 2020 ambition of sourcing all of its rice under UNCLE BEN’S® from more sustainable sources.


Additionally, when a quality problem arises with a food product, manufacturers need to be able to quickly trace component ingredients to their source for prompt remediation.

Mars Food is part of Mars, Incorporated, a family business with operations across the world. Mars, Incorporated has put sustainability at the heart of how it does business, and this year launched its Sustainable in a Generation Plan. For Mars Food, whether it’s rice from India for UNCLE BEN’S® or tomatoes from Italy for DOLMIO®, Mars Food wants to source it right, ensuring that the company’s practices make a positive impact on human rights, farmer income, greenhouse gas emissions, and responsible water and land usage.

Tracking Supply Chains in the Cloud

Tracking how thousands of global suppliers meet multiple measurement criteria for tens of thousands of food items is a big information management challenge. Mars Food had already mapped and analyzed its supply chains, but its previous supply chain knowledge management solution wasn’t dynamic enough to accommodate the changes happening in its supply chains. It also wasn’t broadly accessible, which limited usage for some stakeholders.

So Mars Food deployed Transparency-One, a sophisticated supply chain management solution. In partnership with SGS, the Transparency-One solution enables companies to discover, analyze and monitor all suppliers, components and facilities in their entire supply chain. It uses real-time supply chain data to reduce risk, identify component origins and ensure compliance.

Once a supply chain has been created, each customer can examine all the recorded facilities in their supply chain and ensure individual suppliers are compliant with recognized social auditing and certification schemes. The system can be used to detect non-certified suppliers, alerting customers to potential business risks and triggering remediation plans.

Building Trust with Customers

With its supply chain in Transparency-One, Mars Food can quickly examine all its supplier facilities and ensure that individual suppliers are compliant with social auditing and certification schemes. It uses the software to detect non-certified suppliers, so it can then alert customers to potential business risks and trigger remediation plans. In this way, Mars Food reduces the possibility of food fraud, unsafe food practices, and social non-compliance, while enhancing supply chain efficiency, building consumer confidence, and helping improve trust in its brands.

“With this solution, we have a solid knowledge management system that is broadly accessible by our suppliers and helps us meet our sustainability goals,” says Luc Beerens, Global Sustainable Sourcing Director at Mars Food. “Having supply chain data in the cloud makes it easy for us to distribute it to our global consumers on any device.”

Beerens is referring to the Blippar app, an augmented reality app, which uses information captured by the system to let shoppers scan an UNCLE BEN’S® package and see a map that shows the location and other information about the farmer who grew the rice. “We can share the details of our rice supply chain from farm to fork,” says Beerens.

Better supply chain tracking also benefits farmers. By pursuing new research to improve farming and production methods, Mars Food can secure safe, reliable, and sustainable supplies of high-quality raw materials. Because many of its supply chains begin with small farmers in rural parts of Asia, this work has the potential to make a dramatic difference in the livelihoods and well-being of millions of people, for generations to come.

“Together with our trusted service providers, we’ve transformed our ability to help protect the environment, guarantee high-quality rice to consumers, and improve working conditions for farmers,” Beerens says.

This blog was written and contributed by:

Chris Morrison
Chief Executive Officer