Inside the Mars Wrigley factory, the air is thick with the heady aroma of peanuts, cocoa and sugar. The American brand’s signature offerings, the Galaxy and Snickers candy bars are made in this plant in Khed, Pune. After a thorough scrub and sanitisation, we step onto the floor of the unit, where workers in white uniform closely monitor thousands chocolate bars moving synchronously on long conveyor belts.
We head to the start of the Galaxy production line where a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, and cocoa mass is poured into a mechanical mixer. On a belt, specially designed silicone trays are stacked. A smooth stream of hot dark chocolate flows through multiple nozzles to fill these moulds one by one. The sight is soothing, like a symphony amid the cacophony of machines.
Snap and fold
Experts say that the first marker of a good quality candy bar is the sharp snap we hear when it is broken. To achieve this, the chocolate-filled moulds pass through a vibrating chamber that removes air bubbles and ensures the chocolate sets evenly. It then passes through a cooling chamber before the moulds are twisted to release the Galaxy bars which are wrapped, sealed, and packed. Until this step, the chocolate making is a zero-contact process.
Launched in February 2023, the Galaxy Fusions 70% dark chocolate is Mars Wrigley’s latest product. It has an intense bitter-sweet chocolate flavour with a smooth finish.
Apart from the chocolate factory in Khed, the enterprise has two Gums and Mints Factories — one each in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh and in Bengaluru. It claims that every factory site in India is at different stages of becoming carbon neutral and water balanced.
This factory began manufacturing Galaxy bars for the Indian market in October 2021 and has been making Snickers since 2016. Both, the candy bars made in India are specially made to withstand the country’s hot climate during distribution. “By making our chocolates heat-resistant, we give our consumers the best chocolate-eating experience and also make it easier for our distributors to transport them without having to rely on coolers,” says Kalpesh Parmar, country general manager, Mars Wrigley India.
The chocolate company estimates that India’s ₹27,000 crore chocolates and confectionery market is expected to grow annually by nine percent by 2027 to become one of the largest snacking markets in the world by the next decade.
Making these treats in India also allowed the brand to experiment with flavours. We identify Snickers as the peanut, caramel and nougat-filled candy bar. But apart from making heat-resistant and vegetarian chocolates for India, the company also came up with other nut variants like almond, cashew, fruit and nut, and kesar-pista. They have now added berries into the mix. In February this year, they launched the Snickers Berry Whip.
According to Mars Wrigley India, 80% of their ingredients are locally-sourced. The fried peanuts used in Snickers are sourced from Rajasthan. Vishal Joshi, R&D manager, says that the company worked with farmers to cultivate the right variant which suits the recipe that they use.
The writer was in Pune on the invitation of Mars Wrigley India