Back in January 2016, when the Grocery Manufacturers Assn. (GMA) was fighting against the labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods, Campbell Soup broke ranks to declare it would state the presence of GMOs on its product labels.
At the end of this year, Campbell will completely break from that pack by resigning from GMA, CEO Denise Morrison announced at the company's Institutional Investor Day on July 19. "This is not a financial decision. It's a decision driven by our purpose and our principals," she said.
Morrison has gravitated her company to fresher and more wholesome foods and has labeled transparency as "the single most important ingredient in earning consumer trust," she said at the investor conference.
As a result, "At times, we find ourselves with philosophical differences with many of our peers in the food industry on important issues. For example, viewing GMOs through the lens of our purpose caused us to think very differently about transparency and we changed our position on GMO labeling.
"Another issue is the delay in the implementation of the FDA's new Nutrition Facts panel [GMA lobbied for the delay]. While the FDA has agreed to delay implementation, we're continuing to drive to meet the original deadline of July 2018.
"Many of our beliefs have diverged from the rest of the food industry and our trade association. To that end, we have decided to withdraw from GMA at the end of this calendar year."
"Campbell is and always will be on the side of the consumer," she said.
GMA responded: “We are always sorry when a member company decides to leave our trade association, which happens from time to time for a range of reasons. We supported an option that can provide consumers more information about GMOs than could ever fit on a label. Today, our innovative consumer transparency tool, SmartLabel, is being widely adopted, with nearly 10,000 products already using SmartLabel and 30,000 products expected by the end of 2017. We will miss Campbell’s participation and wish them well.”