The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit – Day Three Review

By Steve Wynne-Jones
Share this article
The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit – Day Three Review

The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit concluded in Chicago on Friday with an exploration of retail around the world, as well as the disruptive trends that are likely to shape the future of the industry.

Opening proceedings, John S. Phillips, SVP of Customer Supply Chain & Global Go-To-Market at PepsiCo, highlighted disruptive trends in CPG and retail, emphasising the convergence of retail and media, driven by retail media networks and AI innovations.

In an eye-opening presentation, Philips pointed out how AI technologies like visual search and generative AI – such as Amazon Bedrock – are revolutionising retail operations, how in-store robotics and drone deliveries are making a resurgence, and how TikTok has become a significant social commerce engine with live shopping and shoppable videos.

Virtual environments like the recently-launched Walmart Realm, in which "everything in the environment is shoppable," he explained, can "fundamentally change how you drive conversion in a frictionless way."

Collaboration And Resilience

Next up, Tobias Wasmuht, CEO of SPAR International, underscored the importance of collaboration and resilience in retail.


Despite recent economic uncertainties and pressures on store profitability, Wasmuht highlighted the resilience of independent retailers, particularly in Ukraine, and discussed price elasticity and strategies for promoting own-brand products, like Austria's successful sugar reduction initiative.

"Collaboration is at the heart of the CGF, and is the original 'grand mission' of SPAR," he noted.

A 'Northern Stars in Retail' session, featuring Rolf Ladau of Paulig and Hannu Krook of SOK Corporation, focused on sustainability and competition in the Finnish retail market.

Krook shared how S Group’s sustainability efforts, including net-negative emissions and projects with upstream operators, have positioned them as leaders in the market, while also stressing the importance of biodiversity.


Ladau emphasised the need for ambitious sustainability targets and the importance of focusing on key impact areas, and added that sustainability isn't like a "hop-on, hop-off bus" – it requires consistent commitment.

"The key question is not 'what is the business case for doing sustainability', it's 'what is the business case for NOT doing sustainability'," he explained.

The View From The US And China

In the final session, JJ Fleeman, CEO of Ahold Delhaize USA, discussed the challenging US retail landscape, marked by flat consumer confidence, rising interest rates, and wage inflation.

Fleeman emphasised the need for retailers to integrate new models like retail media and AI into their business, despite organisational resistance to change. He advocated for clarity, collaboration, and a strong leadership focus to navigate these challenges successfully.


"Culture, teamwork, collaboration and clarity are really important for businesses to be able to win," he said. "Leadership has always mattered, and leadership is one of the most important things we can focus on right now."

Next, Dr. Zhang Wenzhong, Founder of Wumart/Dmall, provided insights into China's retail landscape and the digital future of grocery stores. He traced the evolution of China’s business model, noting significant growth and the impact of digitalisation and AI on the industry.

"The era of 'smart' and 'digital' requires a radical deconstruction and reconstruction of traditional retail," he noted.

The Global Summit concluded with remarks from Frans Muller, President & CEO of Ahold Delhaize, and Dirk Van de Put, Chairman & CEO of Mondelēz International, emphasising the importance of leadership and setting an example in the fight for a sustainable future.


"The fact that this is the biggest Summit that we've ever had shows that we are dealing with a group of people that are interested in the subject and want to move the needle on ESG, and I feel very encouraged by that," as Van de Put put it.

The next Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit will be held in Amsterdam from June 10-13, 2025.

Get the week's top grocery retail news

The most important stories from European grocery retail direct to your inbox every Thursday

Processing your request...

Thanks! please check your email to confirm your subscription.

By signing up you are agreeing to our terms & conditions and privacy policy. You can unsubscribe at any time.