The importance of efforts under way to drive positive change was underlined by 16-year-old Midori Watabe, chief future officer at Euglena Co, on the second day of The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Kyoto, Japan.
Taking part in a panel discussion alongside Lawson chief executive Sadanobu Takemasu and Wantedly CEO and founder Akiko Naka, Watabe observed that for her generation, "doors [have been] closed for reasons that are beyond our control", pondering how much of her and her peers' lives would be "controlled by these closed doors".
Sustainable Wellbeing Goals
The closing day of the Summit (read our Day One review here), the flagship event for the retail and consumer goods industries – which welcomed more than 1,000 CEOs, C-level executives and industry professionals, kicked off with a presentation from Dr. Yoshiki Ishikawa of the Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation, who suggested that on top of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we should also consider Sustainable Wellbeing Goals (SWGs) as the century progresses.
Pointing to upheavals such as the Arab Spring, Brexit and Ukraine's Maidan Revolution, Ishikawa noted that the '"deterioration of wellbeing at societal level leads to political and social upheavals", adding that this may also be true at business level.
Health And Sustainability
Next, following an introduction to Kyoto from local officials, educators and the deputy head priest at Taizo-in Zen Buddhist Temple, the Summit explored how collaboration on health and sustainability was being put to the test in the retail and CPG environment.
Ahold Delhaize's Imke van Gasselt, Unilever's Rebecca Marmot and Danone's Ayla Ziz (pictured) took part in the panel discussion, with Marmot noting that the industry is committed to finding ways to enable consumers to "take more proactive roles with their health".
Discussing various partnerships with the likes of Carrefour and Tesco, Danone's Ziz observed that "performance without sustainability has no future, sustainability without performance has no impact", words that could apply to many of the endeavours being undertaken by CGF members.
Food Tech First
Following insightful coffee break sessions from IBM and dunnhumby, the mid-morning session kicked off with an exploration of the latest developments in food technology and their potential for transforming the food industry – hosted by Zintinus partner Olaf Koch and Bits x Bites managing director Matilda Ho.
Together they highlighted transformative innovations from around the world, including a Singapore-based producer of a meatless chicken substitute and an Israeli producer of cultured meat products.
With India recently overtaking China as the world's most populous country, a discussion with Damodar Mall, grocery CEO at Reliance Retail was a timely addition to the Summit, with Mall observing that the country is well positioned for sustainability, given the longstanding Indian habit of "not wasting things and extracting value" from them.
Reliance Retail, he added, is doing its part to "create shared consumer and social habits" within this context.
At this year's Summit, The Consumer Goods Forum launched a new tool to enable firms to either commence or accelerate progress on decarbonisation and regenerative agriculture – the CGF Climate x Nature x Ag Ecosystem Map.
A busy discussion panel coincided with the launch, featuring PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta, Ahold Delhaize's Frans Muller, Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique, Accenture's Oliver Wright, and a video address from Razan Al Mubarak, High-Level Champion of the UAE, where this year's COP Summit will take place later in the year.
As Danone's de Saint-Affrique noted, the Summit venue played host to the signing of the Kyoto Protocol a quarter-century previous, and a similar commitment is now required to ensure the long-term stability of businesses. He called on those present to "look at sustainability as something that is intrinsic to the strategy of [your] company".
Elsewhere, PepsiCo's Ramon Laguarta suggested that the sustainable transition should be looked at as "an opportunity rather than a challenge", expressing his belief that forward-thinking businesses will be able to generate stronger sales and profits.
The afternoon kicked off with a series of parallel special sessions hosted by NielsenIQ; PA Consulting with Unilever and Microsoft; SAP and Accenture; and Sitbo Systems, before it was back to the main plenary hall for a presentation by PepsiCo's John Phillips on the topic of 'The Future of Retail & FMCG Innovation', which touched on a range of topics, including retail media, automation and smart packaging.
On the latter, he observed that smart packaging presents a valuable opportunity to connect to customers – "through a single scan, you can create a curated experience", as he put it.
The close of the Summit saw Japanese actor Ken Watanabe take to the stage for a discussion with plenary moderator Isabelle Kumar and CGF managing director (and self-confessed lifelong fan) Wai-Chan Chan.
As well as discussing roles past and present, Watanabe drew parallels between the Japanese spirit of "mutual help and helping each other" with the challenges facing business leaders today.
"We need to be open minded to collaborate," he explained – a call to action that resonated with everybody in the room.
The 2024 edition of the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit takes place in Chicago next June. For more information, visit www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.