Blog: Dean BestUS trade body GMA loses another high-profile member

Dean Best | 25 October 2017

Just months after Campbell Soup Co. decided to leave The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the US lobby group is to see another major member leave.

Nestle is to quit the GMA at the end of the year, a source familiar with the situation said.

The world's largest food maker declined to comment on its decision.

Campbell, which is set to end its membership of the GMA at the end of this year, has said it has had "philosophical differences" with the trade association "on important issues".

Speaking to investors in July when Campbell announced its decision, Denise Morrison, the company's president and CEO, said: "There's two ways to look at it. Why did you decide to leave it? We actually turned it around and said 'Why would we stay on it?'

"The GMA has grown over the past few years, more as a lobbying and regulatory association dealing with a lot of the regulatory issues in the food industry. What we have experienced is finding ourselves at odds with some of the positions.

"When you think about it, you step back, it's comprised of mostly very large food companies and not a lot of small companies and our philosophy seems to be aligning more with the smaller food companies."

While Morrison did not comment directly on where Campbell found itself at odds with the GMA, the soup-to-biscuits maker had, for example, supported the implementation by July 2018 of changes to the Nutrition Facts labels used on food sold in the US, whereas the trade body had pushed for a delay (a delay since awarded by the country's Food and Drug Administration).

With Nestle tight-lipped on its decision to leave the GMA, it is hard to know precisely why it no longer wants to be a member of the influential lobby body but the Butterfinger chocolate maker has, for example, gone on-the-record about its support for the introduction of information on the Nutrition Facts label on the sugars added to food - and the use of a "daily value" to show the proportion of these sugars take up as part of a recommended daily intake. The GMA was public in its reservations while the US government was weighing up whether to include the information (the then Obama administration did, in the end, decide to do so).

Reacting to Nestle's decision to quit the GMA, a spokesperson said: "We are disappointed when a member company decides to leave our trade association and pleased when companies of all sizes join to be part of our work on consumer transparency, sustainability, product safety, nutrition and retailer collaboration. Nestle’s participation in GMA will be missed, and we hope there will be a time when they will rejoin us."

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