Global Food Summit 2011: health and nutrition is a key focus

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Health and nutrition were key topics under the spotlight at the 2011 Global Food Summit held in Barcelona, Spain, 15-17 June 2011.

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, told The Global Summit this was the first generation in world history where “the future of food” represented two challenges, not one.

One half of the world had too much food and one half too little.

Focusing on the obesity side of the equation, Nooyi said the inherent energy imbalance of the developed world had created an astonishing level of obesity, and a generation of children who might be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.

No one agency or industry had the power to reverse this trend, Nooyi said. If all of the relevant stakeholders were seated together, it would be around a crowded table. As an industry, the food business would only be heard if it spoke with one voice, and Nooyi welcomed the adoption of three new health and wellness resolutions by the board of The Consumer Goods Forum.

Dick Boer, CEO of Royal Ahold, introduced the three new health and wellness resolutions approved earlier this week by the board of The Consumer Goods Forum – a move he described as “a very big step”.

The first concerned increased access and availability, offering consumers and shoppers a range of products and services that supports the goals of healthier diets and lifestyles.

The second focuses on product information and responsible marketing, concerned the detailed nutritional information to be found on the back of the pack and minimum clear calorie indicators on the front as well as guidance for responsible advertising, including to children.

The third was a broader mission to promote healthier lifestyles for customers but also employees. As an example from Ahold, Boer described children being invited into stores to be shown directly how to select and consume healthy choices.

Guido Barilla, chairman of Barilla Group, told The Global Summit there was an urgent need for the food business to ask itself some very tough questions. He said theconcept of growth had to be examined if the industry was going to be able to deal with the issues it faced.

Barilla Group has established the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, which has already helped the company to change a number of its recipes and reduce pasta volumes.
Barilla said he estimated there were 3bn people eating way too much and food business companies needed to have the courage actively to tell their customers to eat less.

To read an Executive Summary of the 2011 Global Food Summit click here.