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Food, Beverage & Consumer Products Companies Examine Key Issues & Trends at GMA Science Forum

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Brian Kennedy

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FDA Comments on Agency Priorities During Luncheon Keynote Address

(Washington, D.C.) The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) 2017 Science Forum today began with a look at policy and consumer trends impacting the grocery industry and ways that food, beverage and consumer products companies can address them.

The GMA Science Forum, which continues through Thursday, also featured comments today by Mickey Parish, the senior science adviser at the Food and Drug Administration, who provided an update on the agency's regulatory agenda.  In his remarks, Parish stated that the agency is “working with companies to create the food safety culture embodied in FSMA” and he stressed that “science will still be a key focus of the FDA, making regulatory decisions that are science- and risk-based.”

“The GMA Science Forum provides a unique venue where science and regulatory affairs professionals from across the CPG industry gather to hear the latest developments in product safety, health and wellness and global trade,” said Dr. Leon Bruner, GMA’s chief science officer.  “The GMA Science Forum is the go-to source for the latest government and industry intelligence on the regulatory, science policy and health issues that will shape the CPG industry today and for years to come.”

This morning’s sessions at the Science Forum started with the major trends affecting the CPG industry and how companies are responding.  Randolph Burt, partner at A.T. Kearney, noted in his remarks that purchase drivers are changing as consumers are moving away from affluence to influence with their purchase decisions and that consumers now consider how they spend their money to be more influential than voting. 

Sara Mortimore, vice president of Product Safety, Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Land O'Lakes, Inc., said “that it is more complicated for consumers today with so many more media outlets and opportunities for information.” Companies and products need to shift to stay relevant to consumers, with trust and transparency very important, she added. “The food industry needs to continue to innovate and must also explain that work to our customers and consumers,” said Mike Robach, vice president of Corporate Food Safety, Quality & Regulatory Affairs at Cargill, who added that Cargill is working with companies and media to show consumers how their food is made. 

Rick Brindle, vice president for industry development at Mondelez International, stressed the importance of SmartLabel™ as a tool the company now uses on 100 percent of their products that will allow the company downstream to have an individual conversation with their consumers.  SmartLabel™ provides easy access to detailed product information, and more than 6,700 food, beverage, personal care and household products from 36 manufacturers and retailers are already using SmartLabel™; that number is projected to increase to 34,000 products by the end of the year.

On Thursday, the GMA Science Forum will feature a luncheon address from Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, with an update on the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) implementation under the new Administration.  In addition, the closing general session Thursday afternoon will offer a look forward at what the future holds on the regulatory landscape as Congress and the Administration address the key issues facing the CPG industry.

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people in our nation and around world. Founded in 1908, GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives. For more information, visit gmaonline.org.