The Food & Drink Business Podcast Episode 2: GM Mars Food Australia Bill Heague
Food & Drink Business editor Kim Berry is joined by the general manager of Mars Food Australia Bill Heague, to talk about his first year at the helm, COVID-19, and the company’s 75th anniversary.
Bill has been with Mars for 12 years, working in Australia, Czech Republic and Ireland before returning to Australia in late 2019 to take the helm of Australian operations.
He shares his experience working for a global, family-owned business and the unique qualities that brings. For Bill, a company that thinks in generations not quarters can focus on what is important: strong relationships; science-based solutions that improve the food that we eat; environmental commitments and consumer satisfaction.
Bill stepped into the GM role just as the catastrophic bushfires took hold, followed by floods and then COVID-19. In terms of the pandemic, being a global company had its benefits, with Australian operations able to draw on the experience, lessons learned and advice from company locations which were days and weeks ahead in the pandemic’s trajectory. This helped them keep factories open & maintain a steady supply of goods to stores.
His take-away from 2020 is that people judge less harshly those that over-react in crises than under-react. Ultimately, any concerns of over-reaction have been quashed as COVID-19 impacts continue to play out.
Another important factor that allowed Mars Food Australia to continue operations this year has been the effort invested over the years in supplier relationships, which helped provide the agility required to implement solutions to the problems that inevitably arose.
Returning to Masterfoods’ 75th anniversary, Bill notes the importance of continuously listening to the consumer and being able to change the product line to match their needs as they develop. He also relates the importance of using a brand's communications to help customers during these difficult times.
Bill also gives us an overview of Mars Food Australia's steps towards a more sustainable future, including reducing their carbon footprint, using science to improve efficiencies of land/water used to generate food and reporting globally on their various initiatives. Mars Food Australia is involved with REDcycle and has signed up to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation's target of 100 per cent of packaging to be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.
To wrap up the episode, Bill outlines the commitment to healthier eating, including reducing sodium and increasing plant-based food products while ensuring they still taste good. Mars Food Australia have committed to producing a billion more healthy meals with over 800 million supplied to date and are on track to reach the billion during 2021.
Food & Drink Business delivers the industry’s most in-depth news and editorial coverage of Australia’s food and beverage sector. The Food & Drink Business podcast is one part of our multi-media platform, which provides: the latest news; expert opinion and business advice; insightful reports on industry issues and trends; new products; the latest research and technology developments; and regulatory updates. Tune in for entertaining and informative interviews from industry leaders, change drivers and experts across all aspects of the country’s leading manufacturing sector.
The Food & Drink Business Podcast is produced by Southern Skies Media on behalf of Food & Drink Business, owned and published by Yaffa Media.
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MC: Grant McHerron
Host: Kim Berry
Producer: Steve Visscher
Food & Drink Business - 2020