A Look Back on 2015

As you know, the CGF’s mission is to help manufacturers and retailers collaborate for positive change and efficiency. We were set up to be an “implementation house”, not a “talk shop”. Last year I believe we have made some progress towards doing as well as talking. So I thought it would be worth sharing two perspectives on this – the collective views of our members and those of the external world.

Members’ survey

We recently carried out our second members’ survey, the first being about 18 months ago. In total some 44% of the CGF’s member companies completed it, a similar proportion to the first survey. Thank you to all of you who took the time to give us feedback.

You may remember that the message from our first survey was clear. Member companies that were very actively engaged in the CGF’s work got high value from their membership, but other members got much less value. In total only 25% of members rated the value of their membership as “high” or “very high”. This year, I am pleased to report that the figure rose to 42%. Still a long way to go, but it suggests we are moving in the right direction.

We asked a similar question of you regarding each of our main activities and the results are shown in the chart below. Again it is encouraging to see that you rated the value from each of our “Pillars” as being higher than in 2014. We hope this in part reflects our efforts during the year to broaden membership engagement in the Pillars, and our launch of practical toolkits to support implementation, including:

  • The Consumer Goods for Better Lives on-line platform for Health & Wellness

  • The Consumer Engagement Principles companion manual to help companies protect consumers’ data privacy

  • The Global Markets Programme, to support capacity building in food safety

  • The Climate Change Booklet and Soy Ladder to support our Deforestation Resolution

  • The Global Social Compliance Programme’s Quick Scan tool to support social compliance

You also said that you got more value from our communication activities than in 2014. Member communications in particular are obviously critical to helping you get practical value from the CGF.

Lastly, you will see that most members continue to get a lot of value from our events. This year we held a very successful Global Summit in New York, with a record attendance level of over 1,000 industry executives. Meanwhile our Global Food Safety Conference and Future Leaders Programme broke new ground by holding their meetings for the first time in emerging market locations (Kuala Lumpur and Rio de Janeiro respectively).

External recognition
Part of our role is also to support you by engaging with external stakeholders – such as NGO’s and governments – on issues where the industry needs to act together. External recognition is both important to enable us to do our job and as a marker of the progress that you, as leaders in the industry are making. Here are three recent examples:


In developing our plans for 2016, we have listened hard to what you, our members have said to us through the members’ survey and informal discussions. While I don’t have the space to cover everything in this note, let me pick out three themes from your feedback on which we intend to focus this year:

1. More – and more regional – member engagement
You have told us that it is still too hard to find out about the CGF’s work and to engage in it. Sometimes we seem to be too focused on Board member companies and on multinationals. Also, while you want us to retain our unique global reach and perspective, you also want us to be much easier to access at a regional level. And lastly, you want more opportunities to share best practices between companies.

Some of our plans to address these suggestions are as follows:

  • We will continue to upgrade our member communication activities during 2016, including the basics of translating our core materials into more of the world’s languages

  • We will continue to pilot CGF Regional Boards. The first of these was started in Latin America in the Autumn of 2015. It consists of the CEOs and/or Regional Presidents of several member companies active in the region and its role is to support membership engagement and the implementation of the CGF’s Pillars. We will pilot similar approaches in other regions of the world.

  • We will pilot a new regionally-based event, focused on helping members learn about and share implementation best practices on our Sustainability oriented Pillars – including Social and Environmental Sustainability, Health & Wellness and End to End Value Chain. The first of these will provisionally be called the “CGF Sustainable Retail Summit” and be held in Europe in Autumn 2016 (Paris, October 26-27, 2016). We are encouraged that 72% of respondents to our members’ survey expressed an interest in attending such a conference.

2. More focus on non-food issues
The CGF is for the whole consumer goods industry. A significant proportion of our manufacturer members and almost all of our retailer members are active in personal care, health, beauty, household, apparel and other non-food categories. However, a number of you worry that food-related topics carry too much weight in our Pillar agendas. The CGF Board discussed this issue in December and fully agrees that it is important to get the balance right. Accordingly our plans for 2016 will start to place more emphasis on non-food (or not specifically food) topics. For example:

  • The Board recently passed a Resolution on forced labour in the supply chain and this will presage a greater emphasis on social sustainability, including the Global Social Compliance Programme. Social sustainability of course affects our entire industry.

  • The Sustainability Pillar will examine the role that the CGF should play in supporting the circular economy. We will likely develop a formal resolution on solid (i.e. non-food) waste. It will of course continue its work on Deforestation which also involves and engages the entire industry.

  • The Health & Wellness Pillar will tailor its agenda to include personal care, healthcare and beauty members, who all have an important role to play in helping consumers live healthier lives

3. Embracing digital and e-Commerce
Naturally, all of our members place a high priority on the CGF’s role in enabling the digital transformation of the industry. Our own recently published report “Rethinking the Value Chain” calls on the industry to accelerate its response to the new shopping behaviours and new business models. To that end our objectives for 2016 include:

  • Accelerating the work of the End-to-End Value Chain Pillar on key omni-channel processes, such as mobile scanning and the digital shelf.

  • Aligning the industry on a collaborative approach to product traceability that will meet escalating consumer expectations

  • Including more digital and eCommerce specialist companies in all our work and in the CGF’s membership

I hope these plans make sense to you and I look forward to working with you on these and other initiatives during the course of the year.

Meanwhile, may I again wish you a very happy and successful 2016.


Peter-Freedman--MD-CGF_transpThis post was written and contributed by:
Peter Freedman
Managing Director
The Consumer Goods Forum