Consumer Goods Forum 2014, the future of food and beverage

The Consumer Goods Forum’s in Paris saw business leaders come together to discuss how the industry is addressing its most important opportunities and risks
Consumer Goods Forum 2014, the future of food and beverage

The Consumer Goods Forum’s  Global Summit 2014 has come to a close. The final day of the Summit in Paris saw business leaders from around the world – and special guests Jamie Oliver and Mattias Klum – come together to discuss how the industry is addressing its most important opportunities and risks, across health and wellness and dramatic global transformation. There are three main areas of change the industry is facing – from erosion in consumer trust due to food health and safety issues, the digital revolution and e-commerce, and new entrants to the market who are changing the shape of the industry, that will not be able to meet these challenges without collaboration – and the preservation of the special relationship between retailers and manufacturers.

The first session was led by co-Chairs of The Forum Dick Boer and Paul Bulcke, where they looked at the issue of obesity and non-communicable diseases in an environment that demands high production and reduced prices. Mr Bulcke outlined how the industry needs to be open and transparent for example around food labelling, one of The Forum’s recently announced commitments, so that consumers can make informed choices. Mr Boer discussed the large amount of R&D taking place in the food industry and its importance for retailers in understanding the issues caused by food. Both Co-Chairs also expressed strong views on the need for greater education in schools, and of the general public, around nutrition, exercise and balanced diets. Mr Bulcke concluded by saying that the industry needs to take steps to become part of the solution in this complex issue. He said that the industry should not lobby for own short sighted interest, but engage in multi-stakeholder actions and dialogue for the right cause: better health and a better world.   The next session covered global food safety and efficiencies led by Danny Wegman, The Consumer Goods Forum Product Safety Co-Sponsor, Peter Begff, Senior Director, Global Quality Programs at Mondelez International and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Chairman Cenk Gurol. They explained the objective of The Forum’s GFSI – to improve the level of food safety worldwide – and said that this is a shared responsibility between retailers and manufacturers. Mr Wegman urged members to embrace the GFSI and commit to improve the industry at a time when the food supply chain is more complex and global than ever before.

Jamie Oliver, chef, restaurateur and health advocate then gave a special session on why we should care about food and health. Mr Oliver said he passionately believes that businesses have the power to change the health and habits of consumers, better than any government who are historically inefficient. He discussed the modern day CEO, who he believes is not just focused on profits but who wants to create a legacy and bring about positive change, and has the standing and long-term thinking to do so. In his talk, Mr Oliver asked for business leaders to personally commit to improving food health and reduce obesity, and to be the leaders of quality control online – contributing to online education, information and awareness of nutrition for consumers. The morning session concluded with a focus on ‘the Chief Executive Consumer’, kicked off by Daniela Riccardi, ceo of Baccarat, who gave delegates the story behind the evolution of the luxury consumer and the desires of today’s consumer to purchase heritage products with a modern twist. Justin King, ceo of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets concluded the morning session with a talk on understanding the savvy shopper. The financial crisis had a significant impact on consumer’s supermarket shopping habits which Mr King says are likely to be in place permanently – customers have reverted to more traditional ‘thrifty’ shopping habits and continually want more for less – which means food retailers need to adapt their own strategies to these demands. The afternoon sessions looked at how companies can succeed in a world economy that is going through its most radical transformation to date. Franck Riboud, Chairman & CEO of Danone discussed business purpose, responsibility and growth, and underscored what businesses can do to be more accountable within communities and integrate these plans into their business model.  While Mattias Klum, cinematographer, film director and WWF ambassador provided delegates with a new perspective on sustainability. Mr Klum highlighted the need for consumers and business leaders to appreciate the importance of nature, and to use it intelligently and wisely. He explained how current choices are not sustainable, biologically or financially, and a wakeup call is needed for a ‘mind-shift’ journey towards a more sustainable world and business environment.   Before handing over to Dick Boer and Paul Bulcke for their closing remarks, the keynote closing address – Growth Through Change – was delivered by Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN and Editor-at-Large at TIME. Mr Zakaria argued that we now operate in a system of amazing resilience, due to three key factors: political stability, economic convergence, and the information revolution. These trends have pushed us towards a global economy that is increasingly interdependent and connected – we are now entering globalisation 3.0 says Mr Zakaria, and need to find ways to arrive at common global solutions in this new world. But, he concluded, this is a positive challenge, as it is born out of growth, optimism and progress.   Paul Bulcke, ceo of Nestlé S.A. and co-chair of The Consumer Goods Forum: “The programme of this 58th Global Summit really reflects the transformation our industry has gone, and is going through. Not only to generate growth and create value, but to also be and remain responsible, sustainable, successful, and trusted. Trust resonates with actions and it is collective actions that help to serve our consumers the way they expect to be served. Collective actions also benefit our industry, and make it stronger and more attractive. Our industry is and should be part of the solution to the issues we’ve discussed this week. We have to do more collectively and we count on you to help us deliver.”   Dick Boer, president and ceo of Royal Ahold and co-chair of The Consumer Goods Forum: “The theme of this week was ‘Growth Through Change’ and in the course of the last couple of days we have heard from our great speakers what this means, with views shared by leaders from inside and outside of our membership. And, we have gained renewed insight into what the opportunities of the digital age can mean for our industry and the customers we serve. We came together here to share our ideas and find fresh solutions for opportunities and challenges. This will be the key to our future growth. We ask for leadership and courage from you all.” Peter Freedman, managing director of The Consumer Goods Forum, also commented: “The challenges we have discussed at this Summit – the risks to consumer trust, the explosion in eCommerce and the arrival of new entrants to our industry – are arguably more dramatic and rapid than at any time in its history. Many of them also threaten to undermine the collaborative working relationship between manufacturers and retailers – which has been so essential to serve the industry’s shoppers and consumers well. So we will need to be particularly courageous in responding to the challenges while maintaining our collaborative approach. The Consumer Goods Forum has a two-part mission: to drive business efficiency; and to bring positive change to the lives of consumers worldwide. We have already started a number of initiatives that will address the industry’s challenges. Now we must raise our game to match the pace of change in the outside world”.


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