Food industry leaders this week called for united lobbying efforts to achieve a more equitable deal from legislators in Washington, Brussels and Geneva.
Speaking at the CIES World Food Business Summit in Paris, Kraft CEO Roger Deromedi hit out at punitive trade tariffs, which had led to a surge in sugar prices. Deromedi said that Kraft had to pay more than twice the world market price for sugar as a result of trade restrictions.
The US company’s commodity costs including sugar, coffee, nuts and cheese rose more than US$800m last year, and rose again in the first quarter of this year. Faced with spiralling ingredients costs, Deromedi urged the audience of 1,200 senior-level delegates from 47 countries to address the WTO Doha strategists on behalf of free trade.
Retailers too issued a rallying cry for concerted lobbying action. Ahold CEO Anders Moberg appealed to both manufacturers and retailers in the audience to “stand up to legislators in Brussels and Washington”. The Dutch company, which yesterday reported a 76% jump in Q1 profits as its turnaround campaign enters its fourth year, has greatly scaled back its international activities but still has significant operations in the US.
In a similar vein, Luc Vandevelde, chairman of the supervisory board at French retail giant Carrefour, encouraged delegates to push for a more liberal market, notably in terms of foreign investment and planning laws, in order to create a more level international playing field in which the best retailers might rise to the top.