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Former GMA leader Koch dies at age 87

George Koch, who headed what is now called the Grocery Manufacturers Association from 1966 to 1990, died over the weekend. He was 87.

"George Koch was a visionary leader who guided GMA for over two decades with extraordinary leadership,” Manly Molpus, who succeeded Koch as president and CEO of GMA, told SN. “During his tenure GMA became recognized as one of the most effective advocacy organizations in the country. George’s personal values of honesty, hard work, straight talk and building his GMA team played a key role in his outstanding  career."


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Koch (pronounced “Cook”) is credited with transforming GMA from a club-like organization of sales managers based in New York to a public policy-focused group led by top executives, with its headquarters in Washington.

“GMA brought me in with two goals: to convert the association into an organization that could handle public policy, and to become an organization run by CEOs,” Koch told SN in a 2008 interview.

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Among the initiatives he led at GMA were the introduction of the Universal Product Code in 1974, and the development of tamper-resistant packaging in the wake of the Tylenol poisonings of 1982.

In a statement last year upon the launch of an award named in Koch’s honor, current GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey said, "George Koch is a legend in the food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry, and for good reason. He was ahead of his time. His vision transformed GMA into an effective and efficient public policy voice for America's food, beverage and CPG industry, and the modern GMA strives to fulfill his personal commitment to the highest standards of integrity, passion and innovation."

Read more: George Koch to receive GMA leadership award

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