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Loblaw is expanding its food waste programme with Flashfood to additional stores across Canada.

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We identify the five top issues which were front of mind for global business leaders at The Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Vancouver, Canada, earlier this month.

1. Conditions are right for industry to act on single-use plastics - while many issues within the realm of environmental sustainability were discussed including resilient food supply chains, sustainable agriculture and the role of technology and data, plastics dominated the agenda. Loblaw’s executive chairman, Galen Weston, pointed to how the industry can successfully tackle this issue due to the high level of consumer interest, governments which are prepared to act and that in many areas, the costs of managing plastics are being passed onto the industry.

Source: IGD Research

2. Prepare your workforce for digital ways of working – several of the presenters focused on the future skills needs of the food industry. While there are concerns about the role of robotics and automation on jobs, technologies will also create new roles. However, organisations will need to invest to make colleagues future ready. Walmart International’s president and CEO, Judith McKenna spoke about how companies must transform how they work and adopt digital, data and agile mindsets.

3. Cross-sector partnerships are the new collaboration – partnerships with companies beyond the food retail sector are becoming increasingly common. Businesses are looking to enhance existing capabilities while also optimising costs. Kroger’s chairman and CEO highlighted the role of partnerships in helping the business to “figure out” how to serve the customer in new ways, while continuing to be profitable.

4. Be trustworthy on data use – the need to find a balance between delivering the personalised experience that so many customers crave and managing the use of data, came up in several sessions. More effective use of data could help to unlock new business opportunities and improve the accuracy of existing operations. However, within many organisations, the use and management of data is chaotic and poorly organised. Frans Muller, president and CEO, Ahold Delhaize, highlighted the need for the ethical use of customer data, questioning whether the industry’s future trustworthiness will still be built on food safety, or whether consumers will rate the sector in terms of how well it handles their data.

5. Get ready for Gen Z – the topic of trust in the industry was also discussed at length by Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder, Futerra. Dubbing Generation Z consumers as the “honest generation,” she said that they require proof of a company’s purpose. They are more demanding than millennials, which to date, have powered the growth of challenger brands - Gen Z could prove to be even more of a challenge to larger food businesses. However, Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and Founder, Chobani, argued that it’s better for businesses to be big and have influence to impact the social and environmental issues which are important to these new groups of consumers. However, there was broad agreement that Gen Z will bring a new level of scrutiny to the food industry.

For more details on each day’s sessions, click here.

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We review the key messages from the final day of the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Vancouver, Canada, including the keynote session with Walmart International’s President & CEO, Judith McKenna.

Transform from within

Walmart’s Judith McKenna outlined the company’s transformational journey and its focus on reinventing the business from within. Launched five years ago, this has focused on building an omnichannel business which makes the most of its existing assets and solves a key pain point for customers - how to save time. To tackle this, the business has had to think less like a traditional bricks and mortar business and look to digital best practices centred on speed and agility. One of the major shifts for the business has been a willingness to take more risks, trialling and testing multiple initiatives while continuing to place a few big bets. Drawing on its acquisition of Flipkart in India last year, Walmart is learning the importance of total customer centricity, iterating solutions and deploying to win.

Source: IGD Research

Shift the mindset, not only the skillset

In a session focused on startups, Ruediger Hagedorn, Director, End-to-End Value Chain, The Consumer Goods Forum, explored how large companies can adopt the spirit of a startup. Four startup leaders shared their thoughts on this topic, highlighting the importance of operating at pace, creating the freedom and space for new ideas to bubble to the top and incentivising and rewarding risk taking. Four startup leaders participated in the session; Sastry Penumarthy, Co-Founder and VP Business Development, Punchh; John Brahim, CEO and AI Business Architect, Maistering; Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and Co-Founder, Catchpoint; Eric Howerton, CEO, WhyteSpyder.

Pragmatic and meaningful collaboration

Collaboration was the focus of a session featuring Stefano Pessina, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Johnson & Johnson. Chaired by Peter Freedman, Managing Director, The Consumer Goods Forum, the business leaders outlined how collaboration starts with trust on a very personal level. One of the key lessons from the business leaders is find three to four actionable and pragmatic initiatives to collaborate around which make business sense and deliver a meaningful and valuable outcome for consumers.

Transforming despite strong growth record

Having grown to be the world’s largest bakery, Grupo Bimbo’s Chairman of the Board and CEO, Daniel Servitje, outlined the factors which had underpinned its growth. A challenger attitude, connecting with people through creative marketing campaign, relentlessly pursuing growth and expanding distribution, building a strong, person-centred philosophy and being patient have become the key principles which the business has organised around. However, despite its strong track record of growth, the business has set out to transform itself through changing its distribution models, developing a new approach to innovation, connecting its production facilities in different ways and embedding digital into its core processes.

Embrace the gig economy

With a view on the future of the retail workforce, Brad Oberwager, Founder and CEO, Jyve Corporation, outlined the potential of the gig economy. Highlighting that the gig economy is larger than most people give it credit for, the emergence of new digital platforms provides companies with the opportunity to transform how they resource their businesses. Oberwager stated his belief that the concept of permanent employees will change in the future, with people shifting seamlessly between organisations and roles.

Explorers provide the inspiration

Summit delegates also experienced two inspirational sessions from outside the consumer goods sector. Vincent Colliard, Polar Explorer, highlighted the fragile nature of the polar regions and urged retailers and manufacturers to seize the opportunity to be part of the solution. Astronaut, Captain, Scott Kelly shared his lessons from spending one year in space, outlining what it takes to take on some of the hardest challenges in life.

We’ve been covering all the key sessions at the Global Summit. See our full coverage with the following articles:

Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit: trust and a new approach

Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit: innovation and technology

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With a packed agenda, we look at the key messages from the second day of the Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in Vancouver, Canada. Innovation and the role of new technologies were among the key themes discussed.

Capitalise on the growth opportunities in beauty

With a focus on the future of beauty, L’Oreal’s Chairman & CEO, Jean-Paul Agon, and Alexis Perakis-Valat, President Consumer Products Division, focused in on the opportunity in mass retail. Both speakers highlighted the significant potential in the beauty category, which could double in value over the next ten years. Urbanisation and digital will be two key drivers of this growth. The growth of urban populations globally will drive socialisation, which along with a desire to combat the effects of pollution will drive more consumption in cities. Beauty will also be boosted by digital, with its visual nature a perfect match for platforms including social media and online video, enabling customers to show themselves at their best.

Source: IGD Research

Dial-up the focus on innovation

However, mass retail has failed to capitalise fully on the opportunity to date, with customers often left disappointed by the in-store experience in the beauty aisle. The advice for retailers is to focus in on the winning categories of the future, including skincare, and build appeal with seniors, a key customer segment that is often neglected. L’Oreal also pointed to the role of the store in showcasing innovation and helping customers to discover new products. Retailers should dial-up their focus on innovative new products. Retailtainment and getting behind events is an important part of this, including the role of technology in amplifying the impact. Reinvention of the store experience should also consider how to deliver advice and education in new ways, using technology to deliver a more personalised experience.

Optimise partnerships to deliver innovative solutions

Innovation is also a focus for Kroger, the world’s second largest grocery retailer. Chairman and CEO, Rodney McMullen, highlighted the challenges of keeping pace with changing customer needs while managing the costs associated with this. Kroger’s ecommerce business has grown rapidly to around $5bn last year and is on-track to be a $9bn business. Partnerships are an important element of how Kroger is innovating for its customers in this area, including working with Ocado, Walgreens and self-driving vehicle company, Nuro.

Define your purpose

Nestle’s CEO, Mark Schneider, switched gears and spoke to the importance of having a purpose as an organisation, beyond delivering financial success. Customers and employees are demanding more of companies and expect them to meet the needs of a broader range of stakeholders. Schneider highlighted the importance of making food systems more resilient against the backdrop of a growing population, without impacting the planet. He remains optimistic about industry’s ability to achieve this through utilising new technologies and insights, along with the collective scale of major companies such as Nestle to set the example for others to follow.

Optimise the cloud to gain new business capabilities, not cost optimisation

In two sessions chaired by Michael Chui, MGI Partner, McKinsey & Company, technology was the focus. In discussion with Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud, the advantages of cloud-based technology were highlighted. In many cases, this is about taking technologies developed for consumers and repurposing them in the enterprise space, helping companies to get new capabilities faster and easier. The cloud delivers speed, enabling companies to deploy applications to solve problems, process vast amounts of data and use algorithms and find patterns.

Improve business performance with AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the focus of a second session where Chui was joined by several leading companies in this space to outline how they are optimising the technology. Diana Burnes, CEO, Bold Metrics uses AI for the human body. Her company’s technology predicts body measurements, which along with purchase and return information can help shoppers select the right sized clothing. Rosebud AI’s CEO, Lisha Li, spoke about image synthesis and how the technology can be used to deliver personalised ads.

Martin Hitch, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founders, Bossa Nova Robotics, showed how it has helped retailers to move from weekly inventory scans of their stores to twice-daily scans. Walmart has been one of the key customers to partner with its autonomous robot, helping to improve accuracy and prioritise daily activities.

Ensure transparent and ethical approach to customer data

Technology was the key topic for Frans Muller, President & CEO, Ahold Delhaize. He showed how technology is driving omnichannel transformation and changing the nature of work. Within the business, partnerships are a key part of this. In looking who to work with in this area, the business considers companies with experience with data and analytics, emerging technologies and the ability to monetise some of the developments. Muller also highlighted the importance of data transparency and its ethical use. While consumer trust has historically been built on food safety, this will be replaced in the future by “can I trust you on how you handle my data?”

Play your role on the topic of plastics

In a passionate presentation, Loblaw’s Executive Chairman, Galen Weston, urged the food and consumer goods industry to tackle the issue of plastics. Noting that large companies have a responsibility to the communities they serve, he stated that the food industry has a history of making a difference. While many sustainability-focused issues can be challenging to solve, he believes that the sector can tackle this specific issue because consumers care about it, governments are showing they are prepared to act and there is an economic incentive to do so. The Consumer Goods Forum has identified this as a priority issue for the industry and companies should look for ways to embrace regulatory change and be part of the process.

Demonstrate sincerity and authenticity to win with Generation Z

The final session of the day focused on challenger brands. Solitaire Townsend, Co-Founder, Futerra, who chaired the session highlighted the demand among Generation Z for companies to demonstrate sincerity and authenticity. Describing them as the “honest generation,” she said they are demanding proof of a company’s purpose. Focusing on the value of independent certification, Paul Rice, Founder and CEO, Fairtrade USA, stated that it can provide an added level of credibility and help brands to tell a story. Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and Founder, Chobani, stated that sourcing transparency is not enough and that it’s essential to connect to the human truth and implement human qualities into your brand. Closing the day, Seth Goldman, Co-Founder and TeaEO Emeritus, Honest Tea, outlined the only way to be honest is to under-promise what is being delivered and realise that you’re never done.

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