COPENHAGEN, 19th October 2023:  We kicked off an exciting start to our first full day of sessions with a warm welcome to the room of over 250 industry changemakers from moderator Isabelle Kumar, alongside Wai-Chan Chan, Managing Director at The Consumer Goods Forum

The theme, ‘Today’s Collective Action, Tomorrow’s Positive Impact’, set the stage for Wai-Chan to encourage all attendees to take stock and come away with a renewed sense of purpose and ambition to keep pushing sustainability action further within their own companies and collaboratively with peers. 

Imke van Gasselt, VP Health & Sustainable Diets, Ahold Delhaize and Christine Montenegro McGrath, Senior Vice President and Chief Impact & Sustainability Officer, Mondelēz International – from CGF’s Co-Chair companies – took to the stage to set out the ambition to mobilise members around five specific acceleration areas which can drive greater collective impact as an industry 

As well as maintaining the momentum of Coalitions, CGF has identified five urgent actions to intensify focus around, helping to ensure that all members can get involved. These are: striving for a forest positive supplier approach; prioritising employees’ physical and mental health; embracing human rights due diligence; adopting the golden design rules to enable a circular economy for plastics, and accelerating a net zero future. By providing a framework that makes it easier for member companies to engage – wherever they are at on their sustainability journey – the aim is to drive these five focused actions faster together. The Co-Chairs’ session closed with a look ahead to the launch of CGF’s important new Coalition, ‘Collaboration for Net Zero’, which will support members on their journey to decarbonisation. 

The world is facing irreversible tipping points on climate change, with extreme weather events and their damaging impacts becoming more widespread and visible. That was the sobering opening message from Mike Barry, Change Agent & Strategic Advisor on Sustainable Business, who urged transformational action to protect the planet and ensure we maximise the full value of all the planet’s resources. He summarised with the powerful message: “In a world that is burning, we are implicated in that fire — but we have the tools to help put it out”.

Shifting the focus to tangible actions that members are taking on health and sustainability, the next session brought together Chris Franke, Senior Manager, Global Sustainability at Walmart, Ayla Ziz, Senior Vice President Global Sales, Chief Customer Officer at Danone, and Paul Lalli, Global VP, Human Rights at The Coca-Cola Company. Businesses cannot thrive unless the people and places around them are thriving too – and the speakers explored the intersections between health, food waste and human rights in tackling sustainability issues. 

Olaf Koch, Partner at ZINTINUS, summarised the state of food tech business and major challenges facing the industry, as well as exciting developments in food tech. He stressed that the food industry transition is coming faster and will be larger than many people expect – and that technology will have a fundamental role to play.

Technology and innovation is certainly changing the way the whole sector operates, and next up was a discussion by our executive sponsor Google Cloud on how to harness data to unleash the full potential of sustainable business. Justin Keeble, Managing Director for Global Sustainability, Google Cloud, Ariane Thomas, Global Tech Director of Sustainability, L’Oréal and Bertrand Swiderski, Chief Sustainability Officer, Carrefour deep-dived into the challenges and opportunities of collecting and analysing data from all ends of the value chain.    

After a lively networking break and the opportunity for new connections to be made, Frederica Pompei, Senior Vice President & General Manager Feminine Care Europe, Procter & Gamble, gave a compelling talk on P&G’s feminine care products. She spoke about how to navigate the creation and sustainability of such an essential product – with the ultimate goal of serving women at every stage of their life, supporting them in their communities as well as giving them choices suited to their needs.

Taking place alongside this was another thought-provoking special session delivered by Bain & Company. Leah Johns, Director, Head of the Global Consumer Lab and Harry Morrison, Consumer Products & Sustainability & Responsibility Expert, looked at how consumers think about sustainability and what this means for consumer products and retail companies. 

Only by acknowledging the scale of the human rights and forced labour challenges along complex global supply chains can the sector proactively change things together. Combatting forced labour and ensuring decent working conditions and sustainable supply chains is the focus of CGF’s Human Rights Coalition, and Mette Thygesen from the Danish Institute of Human Rights joined the SRS by video to set out the state of play for human rights in Denmark, providing valuable insights around how business leaders can proactively address this critical area.

Today saw the launch of the Forest Positive Coalition’s latest Annual Report, showing progress, challenges and learnings in protecting the climate, nature and communities. These themes were the focus of a lively discussion between Emily Kunen, Senior Director, Sustainable Agriculture at PepsiCo, Christine Montenegro McGrath, Senior Vice President and Chief Impact & Sustainability Officer at Mondelēz International, Petra Tanos, Head of Private Sector Engagement & Strategic Partnerships at Tropical Forest Alliance, and Cathrine Bloch Veiberg, Chief Advisor, Responsible Value Chains at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The session made clear that we cannot have a forest positive future without a people positive future too, and emphasised the need for even deeper collaboration between businesses, non-profits, local communities and policymakers to drive the pace and scale of change required to save the world’s forests.

Food loss and waste accounts for around 10% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and industry action is urgently needed throughout the supply chain. Bringing together a range of experts with practical case studies to share – including finding a way to upcycle perfectly edible pumpkins with cosmetic flaws. The next session featured Kai Robertson, Independent Senior Corporate Sustainability Advisor & Food Loss and Waste Expert at KOR Consulting, Chris Franke, Senior Manager, Global Sustainability at Walmart, Emil Munck de Voss, CEO and Co-Founder at REDUCED, Johannes Bachstädter, Manager – International Sustainability at ALDI SÜD KG and Tony McElroy, Head of Campaigns: Sustainability, Circularity and Food Waste at Tesco.

Taking place simultaneously was a parallel breakout session, where Samar Elmnhrawy, Senior Vice President – Human Capital & Sustainability, Majid Al Futtaim – Retail, gave the audience a glimpse into the regional challenges and success stories, particularly around health and agriculture in the Middle East and Africa. 

The health of people and the planet are closely connected, and it is essential to nourish our bodies while protecting the world’s resources. Sharon Bligh, Health & Sustainability Director at CGF, Sophie Egan, Director of Strategy at Food for Climate League, Tina Halborg Nielsen, VP Operations Europe at Too Good To Go, Paul Crewe, Chief Sustainability Officer & Executive Director at Anthesis Group and Paul Newnham, Director at SDG2 Advocacy Hub, took part in a wide ranging discussion about food’s impact on the climate, which included a look at how the cost of living crisis is encouraging people to look for innovative ways to eat more healthily.

Helen Wray, Global Mental Health & Energy Lead at Mars, Inc set the stage for an interactive discussion with Maria Fernanda Posada, Sustainability Director at Grupo Éxito, Bärbel Weiligmann, Global Lead Workforce Nutrition at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, which focused on the business case for how thriving workforces ensure successful businesses. Whatever the size of a company, employee health and wellbeing is both a significant responsibility and an opportunity. 

After an invigorating networking break, attention turned to the need for consistent methodologies and supply chain data, in order to analyse and compare the environmental performance of a food product in retail. Meike Hopman, Sustainability Consultant, Blonk, a Mérieux NutriSciences Company, Laura Jungmann, Director of Sustainability, Albert Heijn and Lisanne de Weert, Senior Consultant, Blonk, a Mérieux NutriSciences Company, outlined specific approaches, tools and techniques to track a product’s lifecycle – including collecting data from hundreds of farmers. 

There is no doubt that plastic can have an important role in getting products to people in a safe and reliable way. Yet around 60% of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics produced since the 1950s has ended up in landfills or the natural environment. The visible and alarming litter entering the ocean underscores this problem. Our collective relationship with plastic needs to change. Gloria Gabellini, Director Environmental Policy at PepsiCo, Sarosh Qureshi, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Business Models at Circular Copenhagen, Bertrand Swiderski, Chief Sustainability Officer at Carrefour and David Clark, Vice President, Sustainability at Amcor, set out practical solutions that can be implemented at scale – including CGF’s Golden Design Rules, which provide a set of guiding principles for promoting plastics circularity. 

The final session of the day was an exciting special guest speaker. Katrine Lee Larsen, Founder & CVO of the purpose driven start-up, Copenhagen Cartel, spoke of how her love for the ocean fueled her desire to challenge the fashion status quo and set up Copenhagen Cartel, which gives new life to nylon fishing nets. She ended with a call-to-action for companies to think about collaborating and sharing your message in a creative way to drive impact and reach global climate targets. 

After a thought-provoking day of talks, inspiring insights and networking, delegates headed to Langelinie Pavillonen to enjoy the Official Networking Dinner, kindly hosted by Google.

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