LISBON, Portugal, 26th October 2018 – The Sustainable Retail Summit has successfully closed following two days of frank and open discussions about the role of the consumer goods industry in driving positive change on key challenges related to social and environmental sustainability and health and wellness. Organised by The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), the Sustainable Retail Summit brings industry leaders together, alongside government and civil society actors, to share knowledge and best practices. Over 260 delegates participated in day two, which delivered on its promise of interactive breakout sessions and high-level keynotes.
Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury’s began the day by talking about his company’s positive agenda and the power of collaboration. He said it’s not just about sources for competitive advantage, but it’s about finding ways to collaborate to drive positive, lasting change. Mike also talked concretely about what Sainsbury’s is doing in the areas of plastic waste, forced labour and collaboration for healthier lives.
In the first of two parallel sessions, Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, led discussions around transparency and their new report, published together with the CGF, on The Honest Product. The report explores breakthroughs in what experts and consumers agree is the most important aspect of transparency: the honesty of products themselves. The report revealed that global consumers are hungry for more transparency about the social, health, environment, and safety credentials of the products they buy (70%), rather than the companies that made them (30%).
Waste was the focus of the second parallel session. Representatives from Anthesis Group, Jerónimo Martins Group, Mars, Incorporated and World Resources Institute talked on how the ability of organisations to work together to share data can unequivocally reduce the challenge of food waste. It was noted how waste is a symptom of system of inefficiency and that a mindset shift was necessary. On measurement and action, the discussion focused on the FLW Protocol and the CGF’s Food Waste Resolution.
After a short break, more interactive parallel sessions took place, exploring innovation and technology to embrace sustainability, making responsible sourcing easier for the industry, re-thinking the plastics problem and inspiring healthier lives.
On innovation and technology, Capgemini, Supply Chain Information Management (SIM) and Refresco looked at the potential role of technology and how digital enablers can be used for good, for driving sustainability changes and educating consumers.
On responsible sourcing, the discussion focused on the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI). Today, there are many existing compliance schemes on the market and this makes it very challenging for organisations to choose the schemes they work with. SSCI hopes to reduce audit duplication, ensure continuous improvement and make them more robust. In future, people will ask, “Is this scheme SSCI-recognised?”.
With regards to plastic waste, Japan’s Kao Corporation provided a great example of re-usable plastics in their company and how they collaborate with communities and schools. Representatives from The Consumer Goods Forum, Mirpuri Foundation and Anthesis Group talked more on the challenges ahead and the need to re-balance the conversation around plastics. Recycling is very confusing for consumers. However, advocacy on this topic is now a mass movement and action towards a circular economy is necessary.
Across the hallway, companies involved in the CGF’s Collaboration for Healthier Lives work talked more about the different interventions taking place in communities around the world, including in the US, France, Japan, Portugal and the UK. The collaborations between retailers, manufacturers and other key stakeholders are what set this work apart. Data is already providing promising results, and more cities will be joining soon. Representatives from AEON, Carrefour, Danone, Jerónimo Martins Group, PepsiCo, SONAE MC and the CGF’s Health & Wellness team all shared their insights into why these activations are key for consumers and the future of our businesses.
In the final session of the day, focus shifted to the big picture once again and implementing today for a sustainable tomorrow. John Ross, CEO & President at IGA got the ball rolling by talking about millennials. He noted this group of consumers are more demanding of brands when it comes to their customer journeys. It’s important to understand current customer needs, but more importantly, what is going to be important to the future emerging shoppers. Millennials are sceptical and afraid they won’t have the same opportunities as parents. They walk into the store and worry about global warming, GMOs and packaging, etc. The fears of our shopper are an opportunity to serve, he concluded.
Marcela Villareal, Director, Partnerships and South-South Cooperation Division (DPS), Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) then stressed global hunger is increasing for the third continuous year, due to climate change and conflict. She said we need a culture change – around how we produce and eat food. We recognise the private sector as a main fundamental partner in the fight against hunger, she said, and we need to work with them to get to our goal of eliminating hunger by 2030. She finished by stating the FAO want to work with the CGF on their Food Waste Resolution.
James Honeyborne and Alice Webb from the BBC then talked about the BBC’s work on Blue Planet II and what resulted internally from this experience. The production was focused on connecting the audience to life beneath the waves. They wanted to “tell it like it is” and form an emotional connection with the audience. Even from the few clips shown to delegates in Lisbon, it was clear this was immensely successful. Audiences around the world have now been starkly reminded of the problems of plastics pollution. After this experience, the BBC knew it had to make some changes to lower its negative climate impact. They have since introduced a “Greener broadcasting strategy”, which includes initiatives such as Meatless Monday (at the canteen), vegetable allotments on their balconies and staff milk in glass bottles instead of plastic.
The final presentation of the day was from Portugal’s Minister of Environment, João Pedro Matos Fernandes. He referred to the European Parliament’s Ban on Single-Use Plastics, announced on Wednesday 24th October, and how Portugal has also banned plastic bottles and bags in government institutions. He then made a strong point that he does not believe that everything is in hands of the consumer and that retail and production merely respond to that. In many cases, the consumer only has a say at one moment of the production chain, when buying. He closed by calling on delegates to understand the opportunity is now, both for business and the environment.
The next Sustainable Retail Summit will take place in Berlin in October 2019.
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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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