Mars Food (as we know it today) was founded by Henry Lewis in 1926 and passed onto his sons, John, David and Victor before becoming part of the Mars family's group of companies in 1967.
Henry had bought up the stock from the liquidation of another company, Arthur Huxtable & Son, when he started his own business selling speciality foods in both Sydney and Melbourne. The company was called "Henry Lewis & Company". His three sons, who all followed him into the business, had a Great Great Grandfather who became Mayor of Queenscliff and also set up a business. He would buy the fishermens' catches, ice the fish and send them up to the gold diggings. Business was clearly in the blood!
Henry Lewis & Company was initially involved in marketing speciality items such as paprika, bay leaves and canned asparagus which were imported from overseas.
In the 1940's, due to the outbreak of war, importation was severely restricted. Consequently the company acted as an agent and distributor for Australian and New Zealand companies. After the war, the company, now Henry Lewis & Sons, re-established the contacts with food businesses overseas. At the same time, European immigration into Australia boomed. The company started to import speciality foods such as mustards, anchovies, caviar, olives, smoked salmon and herrings; all favourites of the new Australians.
In 1949, Henry's son Victor returned from the United States after several years studying the food industry and becoming one of the very first Food Technologists in Australia.
In 1950, Henry and his sons decided to start manufacturing rather than simply re-packing. They had developed a brand name for their new products, MASTERFOODS, which was first registered in 1945 where it was used on re-packaged goods such as herbs and spices. The very first product manufactured under the MASTERFOODS brand was Bread & Butter Cucumbers.
In 1952, a number of products were added to the MASTERFOODS range: mustard, paprika, Lemon Aid and mint jelly. Other products such as soy sauce, poppy seeds, curry and bay leaves were still being imported. In 1954 the first sales of the MASTERFOODS branded products were made to New Zealand.
The first herbs and spices in glass jars were also produced in 1954 and included products such as celery salt and vanillin sugar. In the 1950's, a number of products were launched that still remain very popular today: Corn Relish, Hot English Mustard, Horseradish Cream and the ever popular PROMITE Spread. The business continued to grow into the 1960's and a new factory was built at Matraville, a suburb of Sydney NSW.
In the 1960s the company was still importing speciality foods from overseas, one being UNCLE BEN'S rice. The UNCLE BEN'S brand belonged to Mars, Incorporated from the United States. A relationship was formed which eventually led to the purchase of the business in 1967.
The business has continued to expand and relocated to Berkeley Vale, Wyong Shire, on the Central Coast of NSW with its state of the art facility officially opening in 1992. Since then, we have continued to grow our operations to be one of the largest employers on the Central Coast with more than 300 Associates working on site. The majority (99%) of Mars Food Australia products are manufactured at our site in Berkeley Vale, with many of our delicious, quality ingredients sourced from reputable Australian suppliers and local Australian farmers.
Mars Food today offers over 500 products in categories as diverse as mustards, marinades, relishes, sauces, herbs and spices, pasta and stir fry sauces and Promite spread. It exports to New Zealand and throughout the Asian Pacific region as well as supplying the food service and industrial sectors.