Following an announcement by the Campbell Soup Co., Nestle SA, Vevey, Switzerland, is leaving the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a spokesman for the GMA said. The group represents hundreds of food companies in Washington. Nestle is the second large food & beverage company to withdraw from the association this year. It's a tumultuous time for food manufacturers facing new labeling requirements and squeezed margins as some consumers shun conventional packaged food.
Nestle didn't respond immediately to requests for comment. "Nestlé's participation in GMA will be missed, and we hope there will be a time when they will rejoin us,” explained GMA vice president of strategic communications Roger Lowe. GMA represents more than 200 firms, according to its website. Lowe was quoted as saying companies decide to join and leave trade associations for various reasons over time. "Nestlé's participation in GMA will be missed, and we hope there will be a time when they will rejoin us," he said.
The GMA spent more than $6 million lobbying last year on issues including the disclosure of genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients and an overhaul of nutrition labeling requirements, according to congressional filings.
Reports say companies including Nestle have taken differing positions from the GMA on some of those issues, wanting to placate consumers who say they want more transparency and information about supply chains. Where GMA lobbied heavily against labeling of GMO, Nestle has publicly supported disclosure of those ingredients.
Campbell Soup announced in July it would leave GMA at the end of this year. CEO Denise Morrison told investors that many of the company's beliefs have "diverged from the rest of the food industry and from our trade association. We had the experience of finding ourselves at odds with some of the positions."