AMSTERDAM, 27th October 2022 – We kicked off an exciting start to our first full day of sessions with a warm welcome from moderator Isabelle Kumar and Wai-Chan Chan, Managing Director at The Consumer Goods Forum. The theme of this year’s Summit is moving conversation to action – ultimately, to drive change. With 63 speakers and almost 300 delegates here in Amsterdam today, there are so many great ideas to share. As mentioned by Tobias Wasmuht, CEO of SPAR International during our kick-off cocktail on Wednesday, we have to keep sight of the long term in spite of our challenges in the short term. 

Our first session of the day was an insightful and thought-provoking glimpse into how we can best interact with Gen Z. Solitaire Townsend, Chief Solutionist and Co-Founder at Futerra, gave a powerful glimpse into this consumer demographic who will soon be responsible for the future of our commerce as their spending power increases.Jana Hošková, Deputy Head of Unit, Consumer Policy, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers at the European Commission, then shared the positive steps which are being taken by the Commission to improve the information being circulated to consumers in order to help them choose sustainable products, which will then in turn help realise the European Green Deal and a ‘green transition’.

Thinking about how businesses can be sustainable throughout the value chain is crucial and the role of Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) is becoming increasingly influential in business decisions. Three women CSOs from major companies – Daniella Vega, Senior Vice President Health & Sustainability with Ahold Delhaize; Rebecca Marmot, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever; and Florence Jeantet, Chief Sustainability Office at Danone – took to the stage to share how and why sustainability can be embedded within the core fabric of businesses, offering key insights into their own companies’ approaches to sustainability. 

The next sessions shifted focus to what is happening with consumers on the ground, addressing the global cost of living crisis impacting consumers worldwide. Anke Ehlers, Global Head of Sustainability from ALDI South Group, explained how this crisis is affecting the food industry on a massive scale, while Feiyu Xiong, Director of Data Intelligence Team, Business Platform Unit from Alibaba Group, shared insights from Chinese consumers and how they are both facing this crisis and calling for greater action around sustainability. 

Maggie Biscarr, Director for Global Partnership Solutions at PepsiCo, then highlighted the need for micronudges towards better health; meanwhile, Cathy Capelin, Head of Health and Sustainable Diets at IGD, spoke about research recently conducted in partnership with the University of Leeds in the UK about how consumers respond to marketing in choosing healthy options in grocery stores. Nicolas Dhers, CSR Director Scope 3 and Supplier Engagement at Carrefour, also shared experiences from similar trials focused on increasing sales for vegetables thanks to new social media campaigns. Overall, Cathy Capelin from IGD summarised the consumers’ needs: products have to be tasty, affordable, healthy and sustainable – they can’t be mutually exclusive.

Shifting focus towards the future, the next session considered what the store of the future looks like, especially through digitisation. Thierry Gadou, Chairman and CEO from SES-imagotag, shared how digitisation can hold the key to reducing waste, creating more sustainable retail businesses by leveraging local e-commerce solutions and scaling up digital shelf life labelling technology. 

With COP27 only a few weeks away and top-of-mind for most delegates, the topic of decarbonisation took center stage. DJ Forza, Campaign Manager, Race to Zero Breakthroughs 2030: Retail WBCSD – World Business Council for Sustainable Development, highlighted the critical nature of the work to be done around decarbonisation given the UN’s suggestion that we are on target for catastrophic change on our planet. Anna Turrell, Group Head of Environment with Tesco plc, shared the retailer’s ambition to ‘level the playing field’ by reducing carbon emissions in plant versus animal protein consumption, and focusing on supporting local farmers who are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Oliver Wright, Senior Managing Director, Consumer Goods & Service, Global Lead, Accenture, raised the topic on the minds of many companies – profitability. He highlighted that we should not see it as a trade off between sustainability and profitability, but rather look at long-term profitability. One way to ensure we reach these goals as a shared collective, as reinforced by Christel Delberghe, Director General, EuroCommerce, is by joining together in the Race to Zero as different associations. For example, she shared, EuroCommerce has created a space for member organisations to learn from each other on the complicated topic of sustainability to create momentum. 

Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, United Nations, then shifted the conversation from environmental to social sustainability by exploring the silent and exploited workforce of 28 million people who are victims of forced labour globally. He explained that companies with extensive global supply chains and third-party suppliers need to recognise their responsibility in this issue and create an environment of transparency and accountability to prevent and remedy these cases of forced labour and create a more equitable labour market.

Digging deeper into industry action around responsible recruitment was Rosey Hurst, Founder and Managing Director at Impactt Limited, exploring the subject of recruitment fees – large fees that workers might pay to recruitment agencies in order to secure jobs, especially in foreign countries, which can make workers vulnerable to exploitation. Didier Bergeret, Director of Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum, shared that the CGF Human Rights Coalition – Working to End Forced Labour has just launched a new tool to help employers repay these fees to workers, while Heidi Koester Oliveira, Global Director, Social Impact at Mars, Incorporated, and Benjamin Gatland, Director, Social Sustainability, The Heineken Company, shared how their companies have been undertaking a journey to tackle this issue within their supply chains. Anbinh Phan, Director, Global Government Affairs and Business Diplomacy, Walmart, concluded the conversation speaking about how the retailer is thinking about action at different levels along the supply chain as well as with governments. 

In the afternoon, delegates split into two different tracks for Breakout sessions. First, delegates were offered the chance to hear more about the connection between food waste and decarbonisation with Paul Crewe, Chief Sustainability Officer & Executive Director, Anthesis Group; Ignacio Gavilan, Sustainability Director, The Consumer Goods Forum; and Richard Swannell, International Director, WRAP. Running in parallel was a session on implementing decarbonisation in your company’s value chain, a case study from AB Inbev’s Aline Casagrande, Climate Solutions Global Director, in conjunction with Karine Basso, Head of Agriculture Value Chains, South Pole. They shared a digital approach to work with suppliers throughout their supply chain to improve knowledge and take suppliers on a long term journey. 

The next dual sessions both tackled human rights topics with Oxfam discussing land inequality and the International Labour Organization breaking down its latest estimates on modern slavery. Barabara Codispoti, Land Policy Advisor & Global Land Programme Lead, Oxfam highlighted the land inequality which exists around the world: with 50% of habitable land used for farming and 88% of this land controlled by 16% of the farms, huge responsibility lies on big companies to make changes and challenge the countries which don’t necessarily support equality within land. Meanwhile, Michaëlle de Cock, Head of Research and Evaluation Unit, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch, ILO, shared the methodology and results from latest investigation into the prevalence of forced labour in 2021 and what this means for businesses.

In the final set of breakout sessions, Shay Bialik, Director of Global Sustainability and Ethics, Strauss Group, encouraged delegates to “think big”, sharing examples of small sustainability solutions that Strauss Group has developed, especially around the topic of animal proteins, to drive large-scale impact on issues like food waste.

At the same time, there was a highly interactive session on a topic that is soon to make waves in the employee health and wellbeing space: workforce nutrition. Healthy and happy employees are productive employees. Sharon Bligh, Director of the Coalition for Healthier Lives at the CGF, brought together Bärbel Weiligmann, Global Lead of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Erin Boyd Kappelhof, Co-CEO at Eat Well Global and Kiyoshi Matsuno, Associate General Manager, Wellness & Nutrition, Ajinomoto. Delegates looking to develop or rejuvenate their workforce nutrition programmes were presented with concrete tools as a way to move forward, opening up the conversation towards building a healthier workforce. 

Delegates then gathered together in the plenary for the afternoon’s final sessions. Bain & Company looked at practical ways to make progress with sustainability in retail. Luciana Staciarini Batista, ESG in Retail Global Leader, and Jenny Davis-Peccoud, Partner, shared how quickly sustainability has grown within the industry looking at how sustainable choices can be made even when shoppers are shrinking their spend. 

ESG is increasingly important within sustainability. Veronika Pountcheva from the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) shared the importance investors are placing on sustainability and value of  thinking from a long-term perspective around sustainability. Lukas Hoex, Associate Director Circular Economy at South Pole, shared an example of Migros’s closed loop supply chains and the importance of adjusting these loops to fit regional differences. Greg S. Garrett, Executive Director, Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), supported Veronika’s comments regarding the importance investors will place on ESG as nutrition becomes an increasingly top priority and as ATNI continue to collect data and compare company performance, placing pressure on industries in the UK and the US. Ignacio Vazquez, Head of Health at ShareAction, felt the pandemic brought health into the spotlight as people and governments realise the need to take greater action to improve local and national health. 

Finally, the day finished with two young activists from Bite Back 2030 who shared their personal experiences with the affordability and accessibility of healthy products in the UK.  Youth Board members Luke Hall and Christina Adane, shared their perspectives around food advertising and had a clear call to action and collaboration with industry leaders to join them in helping improve children’s health by 2030.

Following today’s busy event, delegates ended the day by heading off by boat to the Heineken Experience in central Amsterdam to take in the sights of the city and enjoy refreshments on the Official Networking Dinner kindly hosted by The Heineken Company.

— ENDS —

Notes to editors

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Click here to see the 2022 SRS Photo Gallery. 

About The Consumer Goods Forum

  • The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is the only CEO-led organisation that represents both manufacturers and retailers globally. It brings together senior leaders from more than 400 retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders across 70 countries.
  • CGF accelerates change through eight Coalitions of Action: forests, human rights, plastics, healthier lives, food waste, food safety, supply chains and product data.
  • 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.

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The content of this press release was written and contributed by Eve Crump, IGD

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