Mars Food announced it will change the UNCLE BEN’S Brand to Ben’s Original, signaling the brand’s ambition to create a more inclusive future while maintaining its commitment to producing the world’s best rice.
“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own Associates and other stakeholders from around the world,” said Fiona Dawson, Global President Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers. “We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change.”
The company has also committed to removing the image on the packaging to create more equitable iconography. The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package. It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.
Ben’s Original community outreach programs will ensure underserved communities have access to the nutritious meals we all deserve, as well as help culinary entrepreneurs of all colors get educational opportunities so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. This work will begin in the U.S. where the brand has forged a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund, before expanding to support other underserved communities around the world.
“Brands have an important role to play as we continue to navigate this moment of reconciliation regarding racial justice, diversity and inclusion,” said Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “We’re proud to partner with Ben’s Original as they evolve and embark on a new path with a new purpose, providing Black communities here and abroad with more equitable opportunities in education and business.”
In addition, in Greenville, Mississippi – where the Ben’s Original has been produced in the U.S. for more than 40 years – Mars Food will invest in the local community to address issues that have plagued this region of the U.S. for generations. This programming will focus on enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as furthering access to fresh foods.
These initial steps are in addition to commitments from Mars, Incorporated to continue to improve racial equity, from increased representation in the company’s workforce, leadership and talent pipeline, to better utilizing spend, specifically among suppliers, to drive positive change.
“While implementing an evolution on this scale will be a complex process, there is no better time than right now,” added Dawson. “We know this is the right thing to do for our brand and business to ensure we create the truly inclusive future that everyone deserves.”
Ben’s Original packaging will begin reaching store shelves in 2021.