Tata Trusts ties up with Mars Inc for food safety

07 Jan 2016


Tata Trusts and leading global food manufacturer Mars Incorporated have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to advance agriculture development, address malnutrition and improve food safety in India, according to a joint statement.

Tata Trusts that will participate in the initiative include Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and Navajbhai Ratan Tata Trust. All these trusts collectively known as Tata Trusts are a coalition of philanthropic trusts that have been working to improve the quality of life of people in India.

Being a food manufacturer, Mars Incorporated said it would work with the Tata Trusts ''to develop methods and tools to increase crop productivity, farm income, and sustainability of select agriculture commodities, and to collaborate on the availability of safe, affordable, and sustainable raw materials from India.''

The crops that will be in focus include mint, peanuts, rice, and legumes.

Mars Food, a segment of Mars, Inc, will also conduct joint research with Tata Trusts on nutritional guidelines that can help address anaemia and other forms of malnutrition, the joint statement added.

''Given Mars' global leadership in nutritive foods and sustainable agriculture, the Tata Trusts believes this collaboration would have lasting, meaningful benefits for Indian communities,'' said Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Trusts, in the statement.

''We are particularly inspired by Mars Food's commitment to addressing malnutrition in India - a challenge of growing concern in this country, particularly among children,'' he added.

Mars and the Tata Trusts said they would collaborate on reducing Aflatoxin contamination in India's supply chain. Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring poisonous chemical produced by certain molds is a critical food safety issue in India. Mars said it has unique expertise in addressing Aflatoxin contamination and can draw on its Global Food Safety Centre in China to conduct future research in this area.

The Mars Global Food Safety Centre is a research and training facility that will drive a global focus on addressing food safety challenges through partnership and collaboration with others. Ninety-five per cent of the work conducted at the centre is expected to be shared on a pre-competitive basis.

 ''Today's MoU with Tata Trusts is an important step in Mars' journey to improve nutrition, food safety, and sustainability in India,'' said Fiona Dawson, President of Mars Food.

''Tata Trusts' strong commitment to improving the quality of life in India, and the depth and breadth of their expertise, makes them a natural partner for Mars,'' he added.

This year, three million children under the age of five will die worldwide as a result of malnutrition (GAIN Report, 2015). Malnutrition and under-nutrition are significant issues of concern in India. Currently, one in every three malnourished children lives in India (UNICEF, 2015), 46 per cent of all children below the age of 3 are too small for their age and 47 per cent are underweight.

Under the MOU, Mars and Tata Trusts intend to work together to explore how best to improve nutrition in India, especially among children.

More than century old Mars, Incorporated has brands like M&Ms, Pedigree, Doublemint and Uncle Ben's. The company has more than $33 billion in sales from six diverse business segments.

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