CBA Gets Campbell Back as It Tries to Rebuild

Feb. 26, 2021
The Consumer Brands Association is regaining large processor members now that it has new leadership and a new definition of its mission.

The Consumer Brands Association is regaining large processor members now that it has new leadership and a new definition of its mission.

The CBA, for many years known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, has reclaimed Campbell Soup as a member, the group announced Feb. 25. Other major companies that have recently joined or rejoined CBA include Hain Celestial Group, Molson Coors, Schwan’s, Hostess Brands and Utz Brands. The organization claims a 30% growth in membership in less than a year.

Campbell was the first major processor to leave GMA, in 2017. It was followed by others including Nestlé USA, Dean Foods, Mars, Tyson Foods, Unilever, Hershey Co., Cargill, Kraft Heinz Co. and Danone North America. Membership today is roughly half of what it was before 2017.

The problem, from the perspective of at least some of the companies, was that GMA had lost its way and was becoming too reactive and defensive on consumer-facing issues. The deal-breaker for Denise Morrison, then-CEO of Campbell, was GMA’s opposition to mandatory labeling for bioengineered products.

Geoff Freeman, who became the GMA’s CEO in mid-2018, has reoriented the organization toward representing consumer-facing brands for all goods, not just food and beverage, and away from issues like nutrition and safety. His emphasis is more on issues with broad membership consensus, like strategies to strengthen supply chains, shape the regulatory agenda and build consumer trust.

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