Five Years of FIA: Building a Vibrant Food and Beverage Industry in Asia


As Food Industry Asia (FIA) celebrates five years of driving positive change on some of the region’s biggest food challenges and looks forward to the next five years, the organisation is committed to achieving its vision to be a trusted partner for businesses and governments – building a vibrant food & beverage industry for a healthy and prosperous Asia.

Since 2010 FIA has successfully united the food & beverage industry around three key challenges of food safety, harmonisation and health & nutrition and formed meaningful tri-sector partnerships across Asia.

As FIA marks five years of operation in July 2015, its Members, partners and staff share thoughts on the learnings from FIA’s journey and how it can build on its position as the trusted voice of the food industry in Asia to bring further benefits to businesses, governments and society at large.

In the words of FIA’s President, Amit Banati, the achievement of this vision, rests on the ongoing commitment, clarity of focus and the continued development of sustainable partnerships between businesses, government, policy makers and civil society.


Commitment

Direct involvement and engagement from industry leaders at the highest level from the very start has underpinned the growth of FIA to become a leader in its field, according to Mr Amit Banati, President Asia Pacific Kellogg Company who was re-elected in 2015 to serve a second term as FIA President.

Mr Banati says, “From the start, FIA was successful in setting an agenda focused on areas of mutual benefit for Members, partners and stakeholders. Building on this, CEO engagement across FIA’s member companies as well as significant contributions by experienced and talented people from our Members has helped drive FIA’s direction and outcomes.”

He added, “To maintain relevance going forward FIA will need to continue to leverage the knowledge and experience of the people from its member companies to add value back to businesses and society in Asia.”


Focus

In discussing the focus of FIA, Mr Banati says, “By keeping an agenda tightly focused on achieving change in three areas – health & nutrition, harmonisation, and food safety – FIA adds significant value to the food industry in Asia, which is a critical regional sector.

“FIA’s ability to accelerate harmonisation to remove trade barriers and facilitate growth; to improve food safety through capacity building and sharing of best practice and improving health and nutrition through renovation, innovation, and promotion of healthy lifestyles will improve the viability and success of the food industry across Asia.

“This in turn can create meaningful opportunities for the people in Asia by enabling a safe and cost effective food supply, providing employment in a vibrant food industry sector, and helping to encourage investment by food companies in local communities,” he said.


Challenges

Executive Director of FIA, Ms Bev Postma says, “Despite the diversity of the countries, societies, and governments of Asia, I’m still amazed by how similar the fundamental goals and challenges of each market are. Most of the region’s consumers simply want safe and nutritious food at a price they can afford, and as an industry, we have role to play in ensuring this happens.

Ms Postma continued, that while the end goals of each market are similar, driving a real change still requires a tailored approach, “With the support of our Members, we have successfully achieved a strong science-based view for tackling the region’s major food issues, and built a world-class hub of knowledge resources. However, we recognise that to get real traction we need strong local collaboration to drive in-country solutions that enhance the environment for every local stakeholder, and facilitate effective sharing of knowledge and best practice.

“We’ve learnt through experience that the largest contributing factors to our success so far have been: the commitment of our Member Companies and their talented leaders; keeping a focused agenda; and building true partnerships with governments, academics and the leading national trade associations in the region. We will build on these learning and form more alliances as we move forward to face new challenges and opportunities together,” she concluded.


Partnership

Commenting on FIA’s approach to partnerships, the World Bank’s Mr François G. Le Gall, Senior Advisor, Global Livestock Team, Agriculture Global Practice, who works with FIA in the area of food safety, expressed that FIA had truly become a leading voice for the food industry sector in Asia.

Mr Le Gall said, “FIA has enabled the development of common positions, created synergies and collaborative action to support enhanced food safety practices and their dissemination, for the benefit of consumers in the region and beyond.

“In particular, FIA has been an active player and a key supporter of the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP), hosted by the World Bank. Since the creation of the GFSP, FIA has ensured that this initiative is attentive and responsive to the needs of the sector in the region.

He summarised that, “FIA’s advice has been and continues to be instrumental in shaping the future of investments in food safety competency development across the entire food supply chain in Asia as well as in upgrading food safety regulatory systems to meet internationally recognized benchmarks.”

Matt Kovac, Policy Director for FIA, says “FIA is well-placed to take the learnings and insights from building strong global and regional partnerships with a broad-base of stakeholders, to drive and develop more mutually-beneficial partnerships at local levels to increase the effectiveness of everything FIA has achieved.”


Reflecting on success

Finally, as FIA charts its future towards enhancing its role as a knowledge hub throughout Asia, through high-level debate and best practice discussions, Tod Gimbel, Managing Director for Landmark Asia, who was involved in the formation of the organisation, shares his views on the five year journey.

“The success that FIA has had in five short years is nothing short of amazing. Stemming from a casual discussion to a fully-fledged industry group, on par with its peers in the US and Europe in 2015.

“There is much credit to be given to the member companies who took the time to really plan out what FIA should be and look like, and the executives in the companies who put in the initial seed money to ensure it would be funded and staffed to succeed.

“While the food Industry would survive without FIA, the fact that FIA exists to enhance the ability of the overall industry to have a forum to discuss, debate, and agree upon positions, and a strong institution to convert the decisions into solid substance and help take it forward to the key influencers in the region," said Mr Gimbel.

“I congratulate FIA on its birthday and see only good things springing forward from the very strong foundation that has been laid these past five years.”

To read more about Food Industry Asia’s five year plan visit here.

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