LONDON — The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) was established to bring like-minded groups together to share information and opportunities as well as to network together. The collaborative effort is working, as evidenced by the input from chief executive officers and senior management of 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and other stakeholders from 70 countries, according to the EY Global Consumer report “Pursuit of harmony in turmoil: working together to make a difference.”
These executives make up the eight “Coalitions of Action” that each cover a different industry topic, which includes health and wellness, sustainability, the value chain, and food safety and many more.
“The CGF is a great platform for us to work together, sharing, creating more transparency, exchanging information and data so that we know what’s changing and how we should adapt,” said Jeffrey Lu, chief executive officer and executive director of China Mengniu Dairy Company, Ltd. “It is great for us to cooperate even more on these short‑term challenges and the volatilities of the world.”
The coalitions work together at the CGF to share the best practices, hold each other accountable and explore “pre-competitive solutions to deliver scaled benefits to all,” the report noted. Some of the shared targets that the CGF brings attention to include plastic waste, net zero targets and targeted health programs.
“It was good how the Consumer Goods Forum rallied more companies to the net zero challenge,” said Magnus Growth, president and CEO of Essity AB. “That was an area where the Consumer Goods Forum really made a difference.”
According to the report, the CGF helps companies overcome two key challenges that slow down effective collaboration: the first is ownership and desired outcomes, where the accountability and strategic priorities of different parties may differ significantly and can cause friction if not managed properly; and the second is trust, where companies operate in a “deeply competitive environment” and anything giving them a competitive edge — innovation, efficiency, technology, presence, talent, leadership and purpose — is closely guarded.
Convening organizations such as the CGF are essential in creating a balance between collective action and individual interests. According to the report, collective action creates systemic solutions since no single company can face so many challenges alone.
“There’s a set of issues — often bigger issues from a societal point of view — that are impossible for one company to solve on their own,” said James Quincey, chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co. “That’s part of why the CGF can be a very useful entity as it can help galvanize action — particularly among manufacturers and the retailers on a number of issues that require everyone to come together to make progress.”
Thanks to the CGF, these companies can create “better outcomes for all” as it helps them maneuver through common issues together, the report said.
“We are very involved in the CGF because we want to have an impact, and the way to have a meaningful impact is to try to move the industry and the systems and the things that are getting in the way. I don’t think any company can do that on their own,” said Brian McNamara, CEO of Haleon PLC.