Nestlé to Exit Grocery Manufacturers Association in Dispute Over ‘Key Nutrition Issues’

Nestlé to Exit Grocery Manufacturers Association in Dispute Over 'Key Nutrition Issues'
image via Nestlé

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, says it’s withdrawing from the U.S. Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) at the end of 2017.

According to Politico, a source revealed the Swiss company’s plans to withdraw from the GMA, which may be related to its forthcoming move of its headquarters to the Washington DC area. That move could make lobbying and meetings with government agencies more accessible to the company directly, removing the need for a proxy that the GMA serves as.

But according to sources that spoke with Politico, Nestlé’s decision came over differences on “key nutrition issues” it had with the GMA. The company, which has been making shifts to its portfolio, including the recent acquisition of California plant-based meat producer Sweet Earth, has “been at odds with the trade association on some of the most high-profile food issues in Washington in recent years,” Politico reports. “During the Obama administration, Nestlé was among a handful of companies that backed Obama administration effort to mandate added sugars labeling and encourage food companies to cut back on sodium voluntarily — two policies that GMA lobbied against.”

Nestlé joins The Campbell Soup Company, which announced its exit from the GMA earlier this year.

“Companies decide to join and leave trade associations for a variety of reasons over time,” Roger Lowe, executive vice president of strategic communications at GMA, told Politico. “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.”

Campbell’s has also become outspoken about its commitments to more transparency, cleaner ingredients, and the removal of BPA from its soup cans.

“The food industry has a big opportunity to be much more transparent and engaging,” Paul Bakus, president of Nestlé Corporate Affairs, told Politico in 2015, adding, “I can’t tell you how quickly change has happened even in the last five years, or two years. It behooves these companies to be more progressive and transparent.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.