Grocery Manufacturers Association Departures Continue Amid Massive Food System Shift

Grocery Manufacturers Association Departures Continue Amid Changing Food System

KraftHeinz and DowDuPont are the two latest major food companies to leave the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the long-standing industry trade group representing leading food manufacturers.

Several other major food producers have left the organization over the last year including Cargill, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Campbell Soup Co., Dean Foods, Unilever, and Mars, Inc.

Campbell’s move was most notable; after leaving the GMA over what the company called “purpose and principles” — a move the company noted was not motivated by money — the soup giant became the first organization of its size to join the Plant Based Foods Association. The organization, celebrating its two-year anniversary this spring — is the first industry trade group for the fast-growing sector as consumer interest in plant-based foods is at an all-time high.

Nestlé, the largest food manufacturer in the world, also pointed to differences over nutritional guidelines such as added sugar content on labels as a reason for its departure from the GMA. The GMA has long pushed for less transparency and supported efforts to protect its manufacturer members from having to disclose, change, or remove label claims that support sales efforts despite any risk to consumer health.

The trade group was highly divisive in its efforts to thwart campaigns aimed at the mandatory labeling on foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

Following the recent manufacturer departures, Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the GMA over the last decade announced this week that she will step down from her position when a suitable replacement can be made.

The exodus of manufacturers from the GMA signals a shifting food system. As Millennials and Gen Z shoppers make up a majority of the consumer market, brands are listening to their demands — namely a more transparent food system that focuses healthier, cleaner, and more ethical options.

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