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Some 240 delegates from nearly 30 countries joined this year’s Sustainable Retail Summit, held in Paris on 27th & 28th October. The event delivered on its promise to inspire and inform, leaving participants equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement sustainable business practices in their organisations and drive positive change across the industry.
 
The conference brought together thought leaders from business, government and civil society and was a unique education and networking opportunity for all those in attendance. 
 
Steps being taken to develop healthier communities was one of the three core themes of this year’s summit, together with food waste and forced labour, with two sessions focused exclusively on the topic. Health & Wellness Steering Committee Co-Chair Petra Klassen Wigger was also on hand to help kick off the event by providing the audience with an introduction to our work.
 
The summaries of these sessions can be found below and have been taken from the Sustainable Retail Summit Executive Summary.
 

Day 1: Introduction to Health & Wellness

– Petra Klassen Wigger, Scientific Advisor/ Corporate Nutrition, Nestle S.A.
 

Petra Klassen Wigger kicked off her speech by emphasising the importance that all the CGF pillars’ work together, Sustainability and Health & Wellness have key areas of synergies and are both aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Petra then went over the three core resolutions, established in 2011, that are part of the Health & Wellness Pillar and the progress on these commitments. Petra concluded her speech with a forward thinking message on what’s next for the pillar including further alignment with the SDGs, greater collaboration for better lives and the creation of a materiality matrix. 
 
 

 

Day 1: Healthier Communities Discussion

CEO Chimney Talk:

– Guido Barilla, Chairman, Barilla and Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation
– Sonat Burman-Olsson, President & CEO, Coop Sverige AB
– Emmanuel Faber, CEO, Danone

 

A Chef’s View:

– Thierry Marx, French Chef specialised in molecular gastronomy
Expert Panel:
– Demir Aytaç, Chief Human Resources Officer, Migros, Turkey
– Richard Ellis, Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Walgreens Boots Alliance 
– Isabelle Grosmaitre, Alimentation Initiative Catalyst, Danone
 
Guido Barilla began by saying in order to guarantee the future of food, our industry must ask and answer difficult questions. He said we face a number of challenges and the problems we face are our own.  We, as an industry, created them. Thankfully, we know we can change. We can drive new business solutions and inspire legislation the right way. Guido concluded by noting we need to eat better, eat less and pay more. If we don’t understand value, we will face continuing problems.
 
Sonat Burman-Olsson noted how health and wellness has been on Sweden’s public agenda for many years. The government is doing numerous things to ensure health, while retailers are doing things too. Grocery retail is very intense in Sweden, but, on health, we work together, she said. For Coop, our customers own our business, so they are pushing us on a daily basis.
 
Emmanuel Faber then talked about the importance of events like the Sustainable Retail Summit in bringing everyone together. He said that over the last 50 years, the retail industry has been successful in increasing calorie intakes, but this is no longer sustainable. He stressed the importance of food diversity in tackling problems like food insecurity and health. It’s not about standardisation. We need to understand local eating habits and traditions and he is convinced the future relies on diversity of food types and diversity of agriculture. You have to look at where and why people eat. 
 
As the CEOs came together, the conversation focused on key topics like GMOs, paying a fair price, food diversity, eating in moderation and the need for greater innovation. They also stressed the need for retailers and manufacturers to collaborate on health.
 
Chef Thierry Marx also looked at the role of innovation and importance of understanding where food comes from and where it will go in the future. Through a think tank, he has spent a lot of time looking at this. He said price is extremely important in showcasing quality. He said we need to see value in what we buy. However, we also need to put the right training and education programmes in place to ensure long-term health and wellbeing.
In the panel, Demir Aytaç noted how Migros had put emphasis on helping employees become health ambassadors. He said their goal is to change communities through their employees.
 
Richard Ellis then noted how Walgreens Boots Alliance changed its thinking by comparing itself to countries. Once they did this, they began thinking about their responsibilities differently. He said you need to find ways to win for everyone and collaboration is one core way his company is achieving this. 
 
Lastly, Isabelle Grosmaitre shared Danone’s experience on healthier communities. She said their work is about bringing health through food to as many people as possible. She said we need to find solutions and how food is the most significant partner to health and the important role of research in understanding people’s habits. We can then act locally, measure progress and impact and act together.
 

Day 2: Healthier Communities Case Studies

 

 

 

 

 

– Christine Cioffe, Senior Vice President Global R&D Strategy and Portfolio Management, PepsiCo 

– Greg Beddoe, Global VP of R&D, Mars Food 

– Julie Greene, Health & Nutrition Director, Ahold Delhaize

 

Christine Cioffe began the session on healthier communities by introducing PepsiCo’s journey and plans, highlighting the recently-announced Performance for Purpose 2025 objectives that focused on products, people and the planet. On products, she said PepsiCo is committed to reducing calories, sugar, saturated fat and sodium levels. She said PepsiCo also wants to offer more everyday nutrition and provide access to understand communities and consumers. She stressed it’s not just about the removal of ingredients. She then provided examples of this commitment in action. Christine said the approach taken must start with the consumer, looking at the consumer context and evolution of the industry and what is impacting food and beverage of the future. Christine then talked about the importance of employee health and wellness. She concluded by highlighting how PepsiCo is open to partnerships with all, and that it’s an emphasis on outcomes and providing more choices and sustainable practices that dictate who PepsiCo partners with.
 
Greg Beddoe led delegates through how nutrition is a driver of health and wellbeing at Mars. He said it’s imperative we can talk about growth we are proud of. He introduced the Mars Food Nutrition Criteria, saying it covers every part of their business. He said food is science and art. We need to blend the science of nutrition with art, noting that we eat with our eyes first. He said food from Mars has to make lives easier – easier to choose and use. He then talked about their approach to reformulation to promote healthier communities and their five-year journey. He said you need consumer buy in, so taste is king. Flavour is therefore evaluated in the context of the meal and how Mars can enhance taste while improving nutrition. He provided a number of examples of how Mars is driving positive change for the consumer – like how cross-promotions will not deliver more than the recommended daily allowance of sodium or added sugar from 2017. Greg closed by looking at Mars’ key learnings, providing both the key enablers and challenges.
 
Julie Greene then joined the discussion by looking at the role of food retail in healthier communities. She began with exploratory questions to help define who we are as retailers, why retailers exist and what ethical role retailers have in communities. She said retailers were created to provide access, variety and convenience, but their role has now developed to much more. She said consumers still need convenience, but are also seeking guidance, service, affordability and improved quality. She also said other channels are encroaching on food retail and retailers should seek to solve the evolving needs of the consumer. The challenge is clear, she said, but the way forward requires change. However, she also noted that not every retailer or region is at the same level of readiness to change. She closed by saying that people managing nutrition-related chronic illness need to change or face the consequences. The food industry needs to change too and support the health of our communities.