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Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit – Day One Review

Featuring the theme Growth Through New Retail, the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit kicked off yesterday, with delegates from across the retail and CPG spectrum descending on Vancouver, Canada, for the annual gathering of industry leaders.

As moderator Alex Thompson noted in his introduction, for the major brands present, addressing socio-political imperatives is “going to become more important in the years to come”.

This point that was emphasised, albeit indirectly, by the appearance of Greenpeace protestors at the event, calling on the brands present to do more to address the issue of deforestation.

But as was highlighted repeatedly during the day, deforestation, along with environmental sustainability, plastic waste, forced labour and other issues, are among the core initiatives the Forum is addressing in its ‘drive to positive change’, with speakers addressing the collaborative efforts underway  in these areas.

Global Thinking

Forum members are committed to “advancing the wellbeing of the planet”, as Forum co-chair Ian Cook of Colgate-Palmolive explained in his opening address, examining how the industry is being challenged by the rapid pace of change.

Later, Max Koeune, president and CEO, McCain, pointed to the challenges associated with feeding a growing population, which could cause pressure when it comes to land use, greenhouse gases and water usage.

Stating that “business as usual is not an option”, he outlined the need to shift towards a more sustainable agricultural approach, and the importance of reducing food waste.

Also, as Peter Freedman, the managing director of the Consumer Goods Forum put it, the Forum is dedicated to the formation of “coalitions of action”, making accountability clearer across the industry.

Trade Tariffs

The event also saw a presentation from Canadian finance minister Bill Morneau, who addressed the growing level of protectionism around the world, and moves by some economies to embrace trade tariffs.

“We see tariffs as a tax on your own people,” Morneau said, adding that a key driver of the tariff-led approach is the “feeling that global business is not being positive enough” in helping society’s less fortunate.

“It is incumbent on us all to think about and address that,” he added.

Lessons From Canada

Elsewhere, Canadian retail leaders Sarah Davis, president of Loblaws, and Tina Lee of TNT Supermarkets gave their assessment of the challenges and opportunities in Canadian retail; the latter from the point of view of the influential Asian population – the “chopstick consumer’, as she put it.

The afternoon session saw an insightful conversation with Arnold Donald, CEO of cruise firm Carnival, on the importance of diversity in business.

“Innovation, by definition, is about diversity of thinking – you are more likely to have diversity of thinking, if you have diverse people working in your business,” he explained.

Roll on day two!

© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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