Woolworths only Australian firm in new global consumer goods forum

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th June 2009

Some of the world’s leading retailers and manufacturers in the consumer goods sector have united to create a global trade and industry body, which will develop common positions on key issues affecting the consumer goods industry.

Named The Consumer Goods Forum, the range of members is a who’s who of the sector with combined sales of EUR 2.1 trillion (A$3.6 trillion). Manufacturers of the likes of Procter&Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Kraft join retail behemoths Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour and Australia’s own Woolworths among the 50 signatories.

The new association has a mandate to “develop common positions on key strategic and practical issues affecting the consumer goods industry, focus on non-competitive collaborative process improvement and to provide a network for thought leadership and knowledge exchange”. It will be co-chaired by Pierre-Olivier Beckers – President and CEO of Belgian retailer Delhaize Group – and by AG Lafley – CEO, President and Chairman of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble.

The forum was created by the merger of CIES, the pre-eminent food and consumer goods industry body, with the Global CEO Forum and the Global Commerce Initiative (GCI), two global retailer and manufacturer collaborative platforms.

“The global consumer goods industry is facing multiple challenges,” Pierre-Olivier Beckers, former Chairman of CIES, explained. “We must address issues of environmental, social and food supply sustainability. We must continue to deliver affordable, safe food and useful, exciting products to consumers in an uncertain economic climate.”

“We will continue to prioritise our industry-leading initiatives on food safety and social responsibility,” he added. “We will continue to provide thought leadership and cutting edge business intelligence. But we will do so with a united focus.”

P&G’s Mr Lafley believes the new Forum is exciting as it presents a new beginning for cooperation on non-competitive issues for the greater good. “This new industry body will allow us to address non-competitive issues together more effectively than ever by giving an equal voice to all sides. It represents a radical change in the way we as trading partners are equipped to meet the demands of the global supply chain and is a true global network for serving shopper and consumer needs,” he said.

Paul Bulcke, CEO of the world’s largest food group – Nestlé added that the new partnership had the potential to cater to the changing demands of consumers more efficiently.

“Consumer’s needs and demand continue to change at ever more increasing speed,” he noted. “For our industry, continuing to meet, and even exceed, consumer’s expectations, is a priority. The Consumer Goods Forum offers us a fantastic opportunity to join forces to work together to do this. The Forum will also re-enforce our joint actions by working on the key aspects that contribute to enhancing and protecting the reputation and image of our industry. Our goal is continuous improvement in delivering value and quality to our consumers and shoppers. ”

The Consumer Goods Forum has an equal number of manufacturers and retailers on its board of directors and will be headquartered in Paris.