ROME -- Leaders from the global community and food distribution industry gathered here for the 2004 World Food Business Summit, organized by Paris-based CIES-the Food Business Forum, to examine "The Meaning of Value," the theme of the meeting, according to statements issued here by CIES.
importance of the subject is apparent in that it was a major theme at the first CIES congress here in 1956. He noted over 900 participants from 42 countries attended this month's meeting.
Beckers gave delegates an update on CIES activities, including the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and the Food Business in Society initiative (FBiS). Such initiatives were crucial, he said, because "if we do not deal ourselves with the important issues of our sector, other people will do it for us."
During the opening session, a panel of food retail CEOs debated the issue of "The Price of Fair and Sustainable Trade." The panelists included John Menzer, president, CEO, Wal-Mart International, United States; Anders Moberg, president, CEO, Ahold, Netherlands; Claude Hauser, chairman, Migros, Switzerland; Vincenzo Tassinari, chairman, Coop Italia, Italy; and Manuel Fong Jr., managing director, Supervalue, Philippines.
Wal-Mart's Menzer outlined the company's position in two areas: free trade and being a good corporate citizen. As a multinational retailer, Wal-Mart has "a vital interest in the streamlined and sustainable flow of international goods, services, agricultural products and financial capital," he said. Wal-Mart thus supports initiatives to cut tariffs in sectors of textiles and food products, such as sugar. As the world's largest company by sales, Wal-Mart also takes the obligation of being a good corporate citizen very seriously, he said.
Ahold's Moberg stressed the importance of retailer-driven initiatives, like those concerning food safety. "If these retailer-driven initiatives would be combined with available development and food aid programs, huge differences could be made," he said.