The Next Generation of Food Trade Associations Has Arrived
Over the past couple of years, we have seen a dramatic shift in our industry’s trade associations: GMA losing many of its largest members; FMI shuttering the nation’s largest supermarket trade show; NGA selling the majority of its annual show to a U.K.-based trade show operator; and other associations struggling as their membership fades due to consolidation.
But that doesn’t mean that there is not a need or desire for America’s food companies to work together to solve problems and issues that are meaningful for them.
The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance launched in July by Danone, Mars, Nestle and Unilever, with a mission to fight for progressive food policies, including conservation programs and more accurate and prominent nutrition labels—issues that folks like GMA fought against.
The alliance will lobby in five policy areas that it says are of interest to modern consumers: product transparency, nutrition, the environment, food safety and a positive workplace for food and agriculture workers.
And their efforts are to be applauded in an era where consumers of all generations—especially millennials and Gen Z—are demanding more transparency and more responsibility from our food companies.
“We truly believe consumers want this, and they vote with every purchase,” Mariano Lozano, CEO of Danone North America, told The Washington Post. “We are reaching a moment when what makes business sense and what is the right thing to do come together.”
The group, according to the Post, is urging the Food and Drug Administration to advance the rollout of new Nutrition Facts panels, first proposed under the Obama administration, which more prominently highlight added sugar and calorie information. It will also back a federal plan, long fought by industry groups, for a phased reduction of sodium in packaged food products.
The group is staffed by people from each of the four companies and a few consultants—not by a huge infrastructure with seven-figure salaries. It is an era of lean and mean, and my hope is that they succeed where others have failed.