Debra Sandler is leaving her post as president of Mars Chocolate North America to take a global role overseeing the company's health initiatives.
The newly created position, called chief health and well being officer, exemplifies the emphasis big consumer packaged-food companies are putting on nutrition in the face of increasing scrutiny by consumers and health activists.
Tracey Massey, who is currently chief financial officer for Mars Global Chocolate, will take over as acting president for Mars Chocolate North America. Ms. Massey, a longtime Mars employee, is expected to be approved to take over the position on a permanent basis, said Mars spokeswoman Renee Kopkowski.
In the global role, Ms. Sandler will oversee initiatives for Mars Inc., which includes chocolate brands as well as food brands like Uncle Ben's and the company's Wm. Wrigley Jr. division, whose brands include Skittles and Orbit gum.
Ms. Sandler gained notice last year when she called on candymakers to be more aggressive in dealing with obesity. "If we don't [act], I worry that someone else will do it for us … Don't wait for regulators to tell us what to do," she said during a presentation at the National Confectioners Association's State of the Industry Conference, according to an account in Phillymag.com.
At Mars Chocolate North America, Ms. Sandler helped lead the launch of Goodnessknows, a regional brand containing slow-roasted whole almonds, fruits and toasted oats that "have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives," according to the brand.
Ms. Kopkowski said it is too early to detail the initiatives Ms. Sandler will oversee in her new role.