Your chances of meeting anyone unfamiliar with the products of the US-based Mars Inc., a family company behind sweets, foods and pet foods sold under the household brands Mars, M&M, Twix, Uncle Ben’s and Pedigree are slim. With a turnover of more than USD 33 billion, Mars is one of the biggest privately owned companies in the world.
One of the company’s key locations is its factory in Veghel, The Netherlands As one of the largest chocolate factories in the world, the unit in Veghel makes a large share of the sweets produced by the company for the European markets. Factories are also located in Great Britain, Germany, Austria, France, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Spain, Russia and the Czech Republic.
Gytis Racius, the man responsible for buying cargo transport for the company’s European factories, says the Veghel facility is a flagship unit not only in terms of production but also logistics-wise. The warehouse annexed to the factory serves as a hub for chocolate products. This is where smaller factories ship their products for distribution, also worldwide distribution for to tax-free customers.
“The expansion project currently under way to improve Veghel’s capacity is worth more than EUR 100 million. This investment will make the factory even bigger and more important to the company.”
Multimodality is the key
More than 15,000 international shipments leave the Veghel factory every year. According to Gytis Racius, the location is ideal for logistics purposes. With Europe’s largest port in Rotterdam just a hundred kilometres away and transport connections to central Europe secured with an excellent ground transport network, logistics works like a dream.
“Due to the sheer scope of our operations, we use a multimodal transport model, which includes the full range of transport alternatives from ships to trains to trucks. The inland port of Veghel is just a mile from our factory, and we use it to deliver our products to Rotterdam for shipping.”
Containerships is one of the logistics partners providing container shipments from Rotterdam to the Baltic ports, Finland and Russia, and offering a number of other transport connections within Europe.
“We handle more than 100,000 European transports a year and work together with multiple transport operators. Our partner selection is based on quality of service, flexibility, capacity, and – naturally – price. Service quality means that the container and truck are clean and tidy, but also incorporates delivery times and accuracy.”
“Some people fail to understand why one day is such a big deal when you’re delivering chocolate bars, but we want our products to be fresh when they reach consumers. In the case of chocolate bars in particular, the taste and mouth feel can change significantly the closer you get to the best before date.”
Before moving to Netherlands, Gytis Racius worked with Kursiu Linija, a Latvian transport company acquired by Containerships in the early 2000s, and is therefore familiar with Containerships’ service offering and corporate culture.
“For us, Containerships is primarily a regional operator providing excellent service in certain Baltic regions. We have approximately 120 logistics partners in Europe, and Containerships is one our of top 10 service providers. So far, they have provided the perfect fit, and I am confident that they will be able to respond to our changing needs in the future.”
“We appreciate the ability to offer great service in the Baltic Sea region, combined with strong ground transport capabilities, particularly in eastern Europe. Multimodality is an integral part of our requirements and operations. We need flexible door-to-door deliveries.”
Gytis Racius expects transport partners to offer customised solutions that address the specific needs of Mars, singling out the company’s cooperation with Containerships in the Baltics as a prime example.
“I think it’s magnificent that Containerships has been able to outperform competitors for five decades. We have been very happy with our cooperation and look forward to another 50 years of fruitful partnership.”