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    CPG Executives Grapple With Rising Energy Costs at GMA Forum

    Participants shared strategies for Reducing Inflationary Impact on Food and Consumer Products

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association, in conjunction with Food and Consumer Products of Canada, yesterday hosted over 75 business leaders from the consumer packaged goods industry to discuss the effect of fuel price volatility on supply chain operations and broader logistics cost management strategies at a roundtable forum in suburban Chicago.

    "There are numerous forces putting never-before-seen pressures on the CPG supply chain," noted GMA s.v.p. of industry affairs Stephen Sibert. "The game has changed, and the companies that come out ahead will be those that not only drive efficiencies within their own operations, but also understand how consumers are responding in this new economic landscape."

    The daylong event covered short and long-term economic forecasts, tactical and strategic approaches to managing fuel costs, and early data on changing shopper behavior. Specifically, attendees learned how to leverage promotional activities to boost consumer spending and what new risks could threaten the value chain.

    The meeting also looked at cost management practices from beyond the CPG sector with a cross-industry panel featuring a Delta Air Lines executive. The program ended with facilitated small-group discussions on such issues as how increasing costs are affecting the supplier-customer dynamic and what effect rising fuel prices are having on long-term planning.

    "Our objective was to bring together a diverse group of top business leaders, advisers, and experts to exchange cost-mitigating insights and proven practices for the benefit of the entire CPG industry," said Sibert.

    Sixty companies attended the IBM-sponsored forum. Rick Lenny, former chairman, president, and c.e.o. of The Hershey Co. and former chairman of the GMA board of directors, was the moderator.

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