DUBLIN, 22 June 2022 — The second day of The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit — the first in-person edition since 2019 — continued to explore the potential for responsible growth in the post-pandemic era, taking into account the confluence of issues and trends that converge with this transition. Moving on from taking stock of these issues, today’s programme delved into the shifts and transformations that industry will undergo to address them.
The Main Plenary stage served as a forum for the kinds of cross-sector conversations that are necessary to solve complex problems like climate change and food insecurity. The first of the day’s panels analysed macro and micro trends in consumer spending, delineated by Clarisse Magnin, Managing Partner France of McKinsey & Company. One of McKinsey & Company’s key findings is that younger consumers are more concerned about inflation, while older consumers are more concerned about the war in Ukraine.
Companies’ ethical responses to these concerns must balance consumer needs with supplier livelihoods, CEO Cécile Beliot-Zind of Bel Group cautioned. “If we really talk about the value of food, a lot of people can afford this inflation” in wealthy countries, she said, noting that refusing to pass on price increases would impact livelihoods in the regions that supply the consumer goods industry with raw materials. “What is at stake is the wellbeing of the farmer that will feed the people in this room”.
A later panel highlighted the CGF’s role as an official “Accelerator” of the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, marked by achieving more than 50% commitment among its Board member companies to halve emissions by 2030. Frances Way, Executive Director of the Climate Champions team for COP26, discussed the challenges and opportunities involved in this commitment with a panel of member company CEOs. “At the end of the day, this is the biggest reinvention of business that we have ever seen, and it’s to come in the next 10 years”, said Jean-Marc Ollagnier, Europe CEO of Accenture.
The day’s closing panel, “Future Consumers: The Next Generation of Food Fighters”, brought together the leaders of today — CEO Frans Muller of Ahold Delhaize and Senior VP Ayla Ziz of Danone — and those of tomorrow: Christina Adane and Jacob Rosenberg, national youth board members of the Jamie Oliver-founded food justice organisation Bite Back 2030. The two activists, aged 18 and 17, presented a powerful argument for the food industry’s responsibility to protect child health by making healthy options accessible and affordable. “We believe you are all part of the problem, yes, but we also believe that it makes you all a very big part of the solution”, said Christina. Frans Muller and Ayla Ziz, both involved in the CGF’s Collaboration for Healthier Lives Coalition of Action, invited Bite Back to help them find that solution.
Interspersed among the panels were one-on-one Fireside Chats with an eclectic collection of leaders, including three CEOs — Noel Keeley of Musgrave, Vincent Clerc of Maersk Ocean and Logistics, Hani Weiss of Majid al Futtaim Retail — along with Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of the Economy Division at UNEP, and startup founder Ugur Samut of Gorillas.
In his Fireside Chat, Vincent Clerc, whose purview includes Maersk’s 750 cargo ships, offered an appropriately nautical metaphor for the current moment. Disruptions are similar to “waves that you see on the surface of the ocean. Some are higher, they can seem disruptive, but they come and they go”, he said. “What is actually really important is that we understand that, under those waves there are currents” — trends that were accelerated by the pandemic — “that will continue to be here with us for quite a few years to come.”
Making an Impact
Further conversations took place at the parallel Impact Sessions, a new programming format for the Global Summit that allows more operational discussions and audience interaction. Delegates chose among five Impact Sessions in two concurrent blocks, covering diverse subjects such as applications for consumer data, practical implementation of ESG goals, and recent accomplishments of the CGF’s Coalitions of Action.
Several of the CGF’s eight coalitions, which address key challenges in the consumer goods industry and support businesses in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, took the spotlight during the Impact Sessions. The Human Rights coalition, whose main goal is to end forced labour, emphasised the importance of the “S” in ESG in the session “Successful ESG Starts with People.” In the session “The Rising Role of the CSO,” the Forest Positive coalition served as a case study for the unique position chief sustainability officers can have in driving change both within their companies and across the value chain.
The Collaboration for Healthier Lives coalition had an eponymous session in which members and stakeholders of the coalition discussed ways to empower consumers to take control of their health and wellbeing, including some concrete solutions to the issues raised by Bite Back. “We know that a big responsibility for us is to be able to provide affordable, nutritious food and make sure that it is truly accessible to everyone”, said Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer of Unilever.
Product Data, the focus of another Coalition of Action, formed the foundation of the remaining Impact Sessions. “Connecting Consumers’ Aspiration with Reality” peered into the gap between two familiar statistics: the percentage of consumers who say they want to buy more sustainable goods and the smaller proportion who do so in reality. Speakers discussed the concept of “covert forced choice,” a kinder-than-it-sounds proposition which involves eliminating less sustainable products in a portfolio. “This Is How We Are Using Data to Drive Our Business!” covered data more broadly, showcasing next-generation analytics capabilities for applications including improving consumer experience, forecasting demand and identifying trends.
Data was also a launchpad for the I-Talks in the Presentation Theatre, concise introductions to emerging technology and insights led by insider experts. Topics included the Metaverse — a red-button issue throughout the summit — as well as the frictionless store of the future, a new operational framework for consumer centricity, and ways to leverage data sets to grow in a time of disruption.
Held during the bustling Networking Breaks, the I-Talks served as conversation starters among the 650 delegates from the CGF’s global member companies in the exhibition hall as well as at the Delegate Lunch and the Official Cocktail that closed the evening. These conversations were as important as those that took place on the conference stages, helping to form the connections that companies will need to tackle the challenges ahead.
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About The Consumer Goods Forum
The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 4.6 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises more than 55 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit: www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.
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