During a recent speech to the Communist Party Congress, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged to make the country a “torchbearer in the global endeavour for ecological civilization” (mentioning “environment” 89 times, more than the word “economy”).

These were more than mere words: China is making a sustained push to tackle the pollution that has troubled the country during its industrialisation; strengthening environmental regulations and defending the Paris Climate Agreement at the World Economic Forum.

With an increasingly affluent middle class, as well as a growing push towards a more consumer-focussed economy, quality and environmental integrity are rapidly becoming an integral part of China’s supply chains, for both local and international purchasers.

This impetus makes it the ideal time for the Consumer Goods Forum to promote our “Better Lives through Better Business” message in China, and we are delighted to have opened a new office in Shanghai.

As the only organisation to bring consumer goods retailers and manufacturers together globally, the CGF is uniquely positioned to help Chinese companies collaborate with peers on the international stage on global actions, such as halving food waste, achieving zero-net deforestation and providing greater transparency to consumers.

Amid public concern in China over a number of high profile food safety scandals, the country’s business leaders are acutely aware of the need to strengthen trust and transparency. The CGF’s China office will allow them to build on global sustainability networks and participating in knowledge-sharing activities.

To celebrate the opening of the office, the CGF launched what is set to become an annual event on the calendar, our first-ever China Day. The CGF’s Managing Director Peter Freedman was joined by Daniel Zhang, the CEO of Alibaba Group – and a member of the CGF’s board of directors – among many other prominent Chinese business leaders.

On the agenda for a panel discussion were the need to empower consumers through healthier lifestyles, along with food safety and environmental sustainability in China.

China Day is also the opportunity to take lessons from Chinese companies’ pioneering CSR and technology innovations. Alibaba, for example, has established a unique charitable ecosystem, last year supporting 23 philanthropic products including the “Reunion” platform that uses a unique app to help locate missing children across China – generating an impressive 94% success rate, while the country’s $5.5 trillion mobile payments market is a world-leader. As the event proved anew, there is much ground for collaboration between China’s CGF members – both at home and abroad – and we look forward to our new office becoming a lively hub for all efforts to support better lives through better business.

YangYing Xu
General Manager/Chief Representative, China
The Consumer Goods Forum