BERLIN, 24th October 2019 – After a successful day of critical insights, best practice sharing and rich discussions, day one of the 4th Sustainable Retail Summit has come to an end. Close to 300 industry experts convened at the Hilton Hotel in the German capital for the first of two days expected to sort fact from fiction and tackle the hard truths in health and sustainability.
The day began with an official welcome from the CGF’s Managing Director Peter Freedman who set the tone for the day, emphasising that this year has been a game-changer in terms of consumer attitudes to positive change. The industry has achieved a lot, but much more remains to be done. Olaf Koch, CEO of METRO, then took to the stage, telling delegates that change starts with how we influence people. He praised delegates, saying that by being here they are acknowledging that we must work together and collaborate to drive positive change.
The CGF in Action session saw the Co-Chairs of the Sustainability and Health & Wellness Steering Committees take the stage to paint a picture of today’s leading industry challenges. Isabelle Grosmaitre, Danone, and Marcus Osborne, Walmart, highlighted that more and more, people are looking for solutions to address their health challenges and drew attention to the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration at the crux of the Pillar’s Collaboration for Healthier Lives (CHL) initiative. Veronika Pountcheva, METRO and Christine McGrath, Mondelēz International, then spoke on the CGF’s pathway forwards on deforestation, plastics and forced labour.
Solitaire Townsend, Co-founder of Futerra, then spoke on shifting consumer behaviour and trends, sharing some hard-hitting truths with delegates, noting that an increasing number of consumers want brands to be sincere, honest and transparent. Consumers are increasingly demanding the facts, and feel they have a responsibility to choose the right product. Dare to be honest, and share facts, Solitaire told delegates.
Health and wellness experts were again thrust into the spotlight for the Megatrend 1 session that took a deep dive into inspiring healthier lives and how to overcome challenges to drive change. Moderator Tom Heap set the scene by highlighting that lifestyle choices are increasingly becoming the biggest sources and threats for disease in the developed and developing world. Dr Lawrence Haddad, GAIN, shed insights on critical nutrition issues while Kieron Boyle, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, and Nilani Sritharan, Sainsbury’s, went on to present their learnings from their CHL UK in-store trial activiations. Inge Erland Naesset, Norgesgruppen ASA, spoke about the role that the industry plays in influencing the choices that consumers make, and Leonie Barelds, UNICEF, highlighted the need for collaboration to ensure that children have access to nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets.
Hein Schumacher, CEO of FrieslandCampina N.V. then spoke on the sustainability challenges facing the dairy industry to achieve carbon neutrality. Working at the primary source of the food chain – the farmers – and setting standards that are above governmental standards is essential. Measurement and monitoring are absolutely key, he said, and we must come up with tools and systems that deliver unambiguous data. Once you measure, you can start to make progress, he stressed. The industry must work hard to reduce the impact of cattle, and innovation is key.
PEFC and SFI hosted a Special Session on sustainable packaging and certification solutions within the circular economy. Panellists from RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Metsä Board Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company and Heineken International shared insights on sustainable forest management and how forest-based products reduce plastic waste and carbon emissions, while contributing to SDG targets. AMCOR Flexibles also hosted a Special Session, and were joined on stage by CEFLEX and mtm plastics GmbH. Panelists discussed how we can make circular economy a reality, and how the industry can align and adopt design standards.
The Megatrend 2 plenary session on forced labour saw social sustainability experts unpacking the pivotal issues surrounding modern slavery. Justine Currell, Unseen UK, spoke on how modern slavery is a shared problem and reminded delegates that this was all about people. Kieran Guilbert, Thomson Reuters Foundation, then took to the stage to highlight the power of journalism in communicating about forced labour. Irit Tamir, Oxfam, went on to speak about the local work being done by the organisation to take human suffering out of value chains. Laura Chapman Rubbo, The Walt Disney Company, then concluded with insights from the corporate side, sharing that Disney’s consumer products business is about taking the famous characters and embodying them in physical products, but doing so while ensuring codes of conduct are being met and human rights protected.
The final keynote speaker of the day, Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, then spoke to delegates about EAT’s mission, their projects and partnerships, and her conviction that food can be a medicine for people and the planet. She warned that we need to radically change our diets and we have only 10 years to cut emissions by half. Without fixing food, we stand no chance of meeting sustainable development goals, or the Paris climate agreement. We don’t need more science in order to act, she concluded, we already know enough.
The third Megatrend then shifted the focus to tackling truths and dispelling the myths around the environment. Cristianne Close, WWF, began by framing the general picture of how earth’s natural systems are in the red. Etelle Higonnet, Mighty Earth, went on to note that companies are doing good things, but we are far from where we need to be. Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars, Incorporated, then looked back on the CGF Resolution and the learnings we have had over the last few years, before highlighting the new pathway CGF members are now exploring. Veronika Pountcheva, METRO, then commented on this new theory of change and how the group is optimistic it will deliver if we have the right checks and balances in place.
Pablo Montoya Dávila, Grupo Exito, then spoke on his company’s approach to food waste and waste management in Colombia before Emma Chow, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, spoke on the linear economy and the need to transform. She said we need to go beyond optimisation of the current linear approach: we need to tackle the underlying systemic issues, and we need a circular economy. Eva Dalenstam, from the EU Commission, then went further into closing the loop, sharing the EU Commission’s goal for a green deal for Europe.
Ryuji Nomura, Kirin Holdings Company, Limited, concluded the session by looking at PET bottle collection and recycling in Japan and the work being done by the CGF’s Japan Sustainability Group.
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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 3.5 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 50 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit: www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.
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