August 11/Rockville, Md./Business Wire -- Mars Botanical announced the addition of Mary Wagner as general manager and chief technology officer. Based in Rockville, Wagner will be responsible for the management of the Mars Botanical business, including the continued development of a sustainable supply chain for high cocoa flavanol cocoa beans, as well as oversight for portions of the Mars, Incorporated global cocoa flavanol research and development portfolio.

Most recently from E&J Gallo Winery, Wagner brings more than 25 years of food industry research and development, product innovation and quality assurance experience to Mars Botanical. The synergies in flavanol benefits that exist between grapes and cocoa, and the quality and quantity of the Mars flavanol research portfolio, first drew Wagner to the potential at Mars: "The opportunity to work on this leading-edge science, bringing some of these learnings to fruition for consumers while drawing on my previous flavanol experience, is what really energized me about this opportunity," said Wagner. As a newly created scientific division of Mars Incorporated, Mars Botanical is dedicated to research and product development involving flavanols -- naturally occurring plant compounds or phytonutrients found in cocoa, tea, wine, nuts and certain fruits and vegetables. Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, Mars Botanical is continuing to build on the scientific heritage of Mars Inc.

Mars Botanical will benefit from Wagner's extensive experience in the food industry, from foodservice to packaged goods. "Mary is a well-respected leader in the industry," said Richard Ware, corporate vice president of Technology at Mars Inc. "Her broad-based experience, including leadership stints with the Institute of Food Technologists and the National Wine and Grape Initiative, will add significant depth to the work being done by Mars Inc. on behalf of consumers." Harold Schmitz, chief science officer at Mars Inc. adds, "Mary joins us during an exciting time in the food industry. So much is being learned about the foods that we eat and the ingredients that make them up. With Mary's leadership, we are confident that Mars Botanical will continue to provide enhanced understanding of the important role cocoa flavanols can play in the diets of people around the world."

Wagner previously was chief technology and quality officer at E&J Gallo Winery (Modesto, Calif.) where she was responsible for wine technology and process innovation, research and development, consumer research (both product and market) and quality and regulatory/compliance aspects of the business including sustainability.

Prior to Gallo, Wagner spent four years as chief technology and quality officer at the Taco Bell Corporation, where she served as the global leader on all aspects of corporate product development, engineering and quality for 7,500 stores. At Taco Bell, Wagner's team was responsible for product innovations (i.e., Chalupa, Grilled Stuffed Burrito) that led to reenergizing the brand through new cooking platforms.

Wagner's food industry tenure also includes research and development management for Gorton's, General Mills and Unilever. She received her Bachelor of Science in Bacteriology and her Master of Science in Food Science at Iowa State University. Wagner earned a Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Minnesota and also completed PMD General Management Training at Harvard University.

From the August 18, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash