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It has been a whirlwind few weeks since I stepped into the role of GFSI Director in October! With the help of the clever, committed people at GFSI and The Consumer Goods Forum, I’m diligently preparing for my first GFSI Conference this February.


It’s an honour to be getting involved with GFSI just as we turn 20. When you consider how fundamentally the world has changed since the year 2000, the organisation’s continued existence is an achievement in and of itself. But we have done more than survive — we’ve grown, adapted and shifted direction when needed to remain relevant.


As we move into our third decade, the next generation of GFSI leadership is gearing up to adapt to a new set of emerging challenges. The food safety community expects us to lead a strategic charge against those challenges so that we can overcome them together, rather than leaving individual actors to fight in isolation.


This rapidly-changing world gives us no luxury of time. We’ve got to be clear about what we’re setting out to achieve, the timelines in which we do it and how we’re going to make those advances. To that end, the GFSI Board have reconfirmed three strategic objectives: harmonisation, capability building and public-private partnerships.


Three strategic objectives

Harmonisation, one of the key objectives of the retailers who came together to form GFSI in 2000, still forms the core of all GFSI activities. The GFSI Benchmarking Requirements inform food safety standards around the world, helping to reduce audit duplication and enhance trade. This year, we’re launching the much-anticipated next iteration of the Benchmarking Requirements, which address the latest advancements in food safety technology and data collection.


Through capability building programmes, we’re working to achieve our mission of safe food for consumers everywhere. That includes consumers in developing regions that can benefit from our help and expertise. The Global Markets Awards are a great illustration of our expanding reach into these regions. This year, we received an unprecedented number of applicants, who represented both higher quality and greater geographic diversity than we’ve ever seen before. I’m looking forward to announcing the winner on the GFSI stage this February!


As someone with a background in both government and industry, I’m especially excited about our advancements in fostering public-private partnerships. Our annual Government to Business (G2B) Meeting is attracting an ever-larger number of attendees, including representatives from OECD, who recognise the potential of this platform for a global conversation.


We expect that the government representatives who join us for this meeting will weave GFSI goals into their decisions and regulatory policy, and that we’ll help them enable risk-based approaches in their regulatory intervention tools. Remember, we’re all here to get work done!


Strategy in context at GFSI & You

You can get acquainted with these goals and other strategic directions at GFSI & You, the opening plenary of the GFSI Conference. This year, we’ve restructured the content of the session to serve as a primer for our updated strategic direction and change in governance.


We’ll also take the opportunity to place GFSI in the context of the larger CGF family. Several topics on the GFSI agenda, including food and packaging waste, transcend the food safety front and require sharing expertise across CGF coalitions of action. I’m intrigued by the vibrant potential of this cross-cutting collaboration.


Whether you’ve been attending GFSI Conferences for years or you’re as new as I am, I’m looking forward to meeting you in Seattle! I hope you’ll join me at GFSI & You as we look back on past accomplishments and embark on our next adventure.

This post was written and contributed by:

Erica Sheward
Director, Global Food Safety Initiative
The Consumer Goods Forum

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