Industry Leaders Convene in Dublin for the First The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit Since 2019
DUBLIN, June 22, 2022 /3BL Media/ - The first in-person The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit since 2019 opened on the morning of 21st June at the Convention Centre Dublin. The centre, which served as the temporary home of the Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish legislature) due to social distancing protocols for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, today thronged with 650 leaders from global consumer goods companies, retailers, service providers and other stakeholders dedicated to ensuring better lives through better business.
Centred around the theme “From Resilience to Reinvention: From Responsible Growth in the New Era”, the day’s sessions addressed the challenges that are emerging as the tail end of the pandemic converges with global conflict, economic instability and accelerating climate change. Acknowledging their responsibility to help consumers through this complex moment, the speakers identified concrete solutions that offer benefits both for industry and the planet.
“We’re going to need to work together on many of the systemic issues that we face as an industry”, said CGF Board Co-Chair James Quincey, Chairman & CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, in his opening remarks. “It’s going to take leadership, because it’s going to be very difficult.”
Finding the Right Solutions
The day began with a full morning of Special Sessions, focused discussions that highlight pragmatic solutions to industry challenges. The eight hour-long sessions, held in two concurrent blocks, placed an emphasis on emerging and existing innovations that can help engage consumers and involve them in the effort to achieve a zero-emission, circular economy.
Several of the sessions served as crash courses on technology poised to become indispensable to the consumer goods industry, including AI tools that can help model the effects of crises on the supply chain; data tools that deliver real-time consumer insights; and diverse applications of Web 3 and the Metaverse. The latter subject in particular echoed through the day’s discussions as leaders considered how their businesses might operate within a decentralised, immersive internet landscape. Data played an important role in several presentations, including a 15-minute I-Talk in the Presentation Theatre that shared a study on hundreds of annual joint business plans between CPG suppliers and their retail customers.
Sustainability was also a frequent topic at both the Special Sessions and later programming, with speakers explaining that companies have both an ethical and an economic impetus to meet ESG goals. Through comprehensive reports and clear data, their presentations demonstrated that consumers demand sustainable, healthy, climate-conscious options — and that companies that do not meet their demands may be at a competitive disadvantage.
Leading From the Top
The afternoon’s Plenary Sessions continued the conversation on sustainability and responsible growth with a speaker list that reflected the CGF’s CEO-led approach. The majority of the afternoon’s speakers were CEOs, including chief executives from some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, who shared learnings from leading their teams through upheaval and adaptation.
CEO Panels provided a lively forum for leaders to compare and contrast approaches to key topics. The panel “Circular Economy Put to the Test” matched CEOs James Quincey of The Coca-Cola Company and Carlos Mario Giraldo Moreno of Grupo Exito with Dame Ellen MacArthur, who made yachting history in 2005 when she became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe, and then dedicated her post-sailing career to promote a circular economy through The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. “The greatest lever is you”, she said, referring to the business leaders both on stage and in the audience. “The combination of the idea of a circular economy and your businesses is really quite profound.”
In the panel “When Collaboration Makes the Difference,” three CEOs from the beauty industry shared positive perspectives from their sector, which saw growth even during the pandemic because “we have consumers who really want to indulge”, said Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO of L’Oréal. “I think we are in a good position to be successful, which we need to invest in solving other issues.” He, CEO Tina Müller of Douglas Group and CEO Malina Ngai of A.S. Watson Group then considered ways to share success with consumers, such as investing marketing money in sustainability education.
Fireside Chats rounded out the day’s programming, in which moderator Isabelle Kumar engaged leaders in one-on-one conversations to draw out their insights and personal experiences from the past two years. Her CEO interviewees included Alan Jope of Unilever, Edmond Scanlon of Kerry Group, Brain McNamara of GSK Consumer Healthcare and Alexandre Bompard of Carrefour, who discussed ESG goals including commercialising sustainability, decreasing food waste, addressing social determinants of health and providing upward mobility through employment.
All of the CEOs emphasised the importance of backing up goals and messaging with genuine action, but Alan Jope made this most explicit. “When our rhetoric gets ahead of our action, that is greenwashing”, he said. “And that’s why we firmly believe that we need to walk the walk before we talk the talk.”
The final fireside chat featured Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance for Ireland and President of EuroGroup, who warmly welcomed the delegation to his home country. While discussing the European Union, he shared a message on solidarity that could apply equally to the consumer goods industry collaborating pre-competitively for positive change: “If we’re all pointing in the right direction, we have the opportunity to achieve more together.”
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About The Consumer Goods Forum
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 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. For more information, please visit: www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.
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