ARLINGTON, Va. — The formation of a new, global association representing the largest food retailers and manufacturers around the world is being met with some skepticism here at the headquarters of the National Grocers Association, which fears that the new group might neglect the interests of independent operators.
As reported in last week's issue of SN, CIES — The Food Business Forum, based in Paris, has merged with the Global Commerce Initiative, based in Cologne, Germany, to form a new group called the Consumer Goods Forum. It will seek to “speak with one voice” on certain industry issues on a worldwide basis and address such issues as technology and logistics standards. (See the Related Articles for coverage of some presentations from the CIES World Food Business Summit in New York, where the merger was announced.)
Thomas Zaucha, president and chief executive officer, NGA, in an interview with SN last week said independent retailers and their wholesalers should have a voice in a group like the Consumer Goods Forum.
“Certainly within the industry it is very commendable when associations and companies really make significant efforts to become more efficient and reduce duplication, and in that regard, we will be observing their progress very closely,” he said. “But it is very, very important to remember that all industry segments, domestically and internationally, deserve and will demand industry representation and service, and that no one single organization can be all things to all people.”
Consumers benefit from diversity in retail formats, Zaucha said, and “we are not sure this new organization [Consumer Goods Forum] has much focus on the important role that the independent operator and regional operator, along with wholesalers, play in ensuring that diversity.”
Zaucha also noted that NGA was “very disappointed” not to have been invited to the CIES Summit, despite requesting an invitation.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, said it supports the Consumer Goods Forum.
“GMA is pleased with the formation of the Consumer Goods Forum and is fully supportive of its collaborative mission,” said GMA President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey.