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As 2020 rounds the corner, the international food safety community is gearing up to gather in Seattle for the 19th edition of the GFSI Conference. Here at The Consumer Goods Forum, we’ve had GFSI 2020 on the brain for months; planning for the upcoming conference began immediately after the curtain fell on the 18th edition in Nice!

Even before they caught their flights out of France, this year’s Conference Committee and Co-Chairs were hard at work to shape the 2020 edition into the world-class conference our delegates have come to expect. As Conference Director, I’ve enjoyed helping this all-star team realise their vision for Seattle.

But the most important member of the planning committee is you — the delegate. We take your feedback seriously, and we’ve incorporated as many of your suggestions as possible into this year’s content. Another key part of the process is our open call for proposals. We are fortunate to receive a wealth of speaker proposals and the committee works diligently to extract the most relevant, innovative and non-commercial proposals to enrich the programme.

The result is a conference that stands at the true cutting edge of food safety. With a heightened focus on science and technological innovation, a redoubled commitment to speaker diversity and a revamped introductory session, this year’s programme has valuable content for return delegates and first-timers alike.

A spotlight on science and innovation
Year after year, delegates tell us that they come to the GFSI Conference to learn about new advancements in food safety science and technology. The 2020 programme places a special emphasis on these topics, making it easier than ever to find the solutions you need to create change in your link in the supply chain.

We’re especially excited about the all-new Shark Tank feature, a series of breakout sessions that gives the stage to the innovators behind the latest developments in food safety. After pitching their ideas, the innovators will field questions from the on-stage ‘sharks’ and the audience, who will vote for their favourite. In the final plenary, we’ll crown the first-ever GFSI Shark Tank champion!

A diverse speaker list
At GFSI, we’re always evolving to better represent our stakeholders. To that end, we’ve built a diverse speaker list that gives a voice to every sector involved in food safety. This year’s speaker list includes greater representation from speakers with backgrounds in science and technology, crucial allies in the effort to provide safe food. A number of CEOs from top food companies will also take the stage to share their leadership perspectives.

As a global organisation, we’re also devoted to representing the international diversity of our delegates, who regularly join us from over 60 countries. This year’s theme, ‘One Connected World. One Safe Food Supply’, encouraged us to place an even greater emphasis on the global status of food safety. Speakers from small companies in developing countries will share the stage with leaders from the world’s biggest multinationals. We’ll also use examples in specific countries, such as the recent leafy green incidents in the United States, to explore worldwide challenges.

An all-new ‘GFSI & You’
GFSI & You, the opening plenary of the GFSI Conference, has long served as a useful primer to GFSI and its parent organisation, The Consumer Goods Forum. This year, we have revamped the content of GFSI & You to focus on the origins and promising future of GFSI, as well as our change in governance and strategic direction. The session will explain our renewed focus on science-based audits and auditor training, our strengthened relationships with regulators and latest updates to the Benchmarking Requirements.

It’s a fitting moment for a GFSI retrospective; 2020 marks our 20th birthday. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this historic moment for the food safety community. And don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback and suggestions — we’re always working to make the GFSI Conference work best for you.

This post was written and contributed by the GFSI Conference Director:

Marjolein Raes
Director, Pillar Events
The Consumer Goods Forum

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