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Sustainability Still in Vogue at CIES

The enormity of the economic crisis has not diminished the importance of sustainability and other issues concerning social responsibility, according to speakers at the 53rd World Food Business Summit, presented by CIES - The Food Business Forum.

"Companies around the world have incorporated social responsibility into their DNA," said Gareth Ackerman, the chairman of the Summit committee at CIES and chairman of Pick n Pay Holdings of South Africa, during opening remarks at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York.

Other speakers this afternoon also addressed the topic, illustrating its importance in the global business community.

True to that theme, the Summit itself is not using any paper handouts for attendees, referring them instead to the CIES website. Even the press handouts are printed on both sides.

In separate welcome remarks this afternoon, Pierre-Olivier Beckers, chief executive officer of Delhaize Group and CIES chairman, said companies must face the economic crisis with a sense of humor.

"Humor allows us to attack our sacred cows, and that's exactly what we need to do right now," he said.

He said the Summit drew 660 attendees from 40 countries this year, "despite the flu pandemic and the economic downturn."