Asia Geared to be the Global Leader in Food

As Asia’s first ever Global Food Safety Conference comes to a close, keynote speaker Pradeep Pant highlights that this region is poised to become the global leader in the food industry. Pant reflects that the actions taken by leaders in Asia will determine the course of the food industry worldwide. Asia is moving fast, and the food industry remains a crucial component in its economic growth.

Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region in the world; by 2030, two thirds of the global middle class will live in this region. Furthermore, forecasts show that more than 30% of global private consumption will fall within Asia Pacific, and the food industry remains at the centre of this explosive growth. The retail value of F&B products will grow to three trillion dollars by 2020. Global and regional food manufacturers understand the value of this opportunity very well, as is reflected in the huge investments being made by food companies in manufacturing, distribution, R&D, innovation and supply chain management.

While the opportunities in this region are truly monumental, it must be acknowledged that there are significant challenges in food safety, food security and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Asia. For instance, about 300 million people in China are affected by food borne diseases. In India, about 40% of food items tested are adulterated or misbranded. In the NCD front, an estimated two billion people are overweight or obese globally. To illustrate the dual-burden of obesity and malnutrition, about 45% of deaths in children are attributed to malnutrition. Food waste is also a significant issue for in this region, with an estimate 414 calories of food wasted per person in South and South East Asia, due to poor supply chain infrastructure.

The only way to tackle these issues in the food industry is to foster a climate of trust and shared responsibility – an environment where manufacturers, Governments, regulators and civil societies can work collaboratively for the benefit of all consumers.

In his keynote address, Pant highlights how a prime example of this is the inception of Food Industry Asia (FIA). Following the Melamine milk powder crisis of 2008, Governments, regulators and the food industry had a common challenge and a ‘common purpose’ emerged where everyone worked together to resolve this issue. FIA was thus formed providing a forum for industry, similar in many ways to the Consumer Goods Forum, which allowed various constituents in the food industry to collaborate in a non-competitive way.

 Pant reflects that in order to do justice to the opportunities offered by Asia, the food industry must build on the progress it has already made. It is crucial that the industry embraces both the technical as well as the cultural dimensions in making safer and better food for consumers.

Pant highlights four key points that should be taken into consideration:

  1. Start Local: Food safety is a global challenge, with various international standards setting the benchmark. As with any aspect of business, the application of these global standards needs to be examined and understood through a local lens with the consumer at the forefront. This in turn will lead to sound policy solutions that are relevant to governments, businesses and the consumers they serve. In Asia, several factors need to be considered when building a food safety culture, such as national diets and traditions, as well as religious, political and social values.
  2. Common Purpose: In order to take advantage of the immense opportunities in Asia, Governments, businesses and civil societies will need to have a common purpose – a shared vision. This is the path to partnership – there will be a lot of debate and discussion in establishing a common purpose, but this cornerstone is vital to success. 
  3. Shared Responsibility: Once the various stakeholders have defined the common purpose, it is critical that they identify joint initiatives across the technical and cultural dimensions and deploy the necessary resources behind them. 
  4. Personal Leadership & Action: Once there is a sense of Shared Purpose, there is a need for the coming together of technical and societal leadership to harness their individual commitments to the consumer. These goals cannot be accomplished in isolation – it takes a whole community to embed a culture of food safety, and responsible leadership to build this community. Leaders in their respective fields, be it technical, political or educational, have a role to articulate a vision of partnership that goes beyond their day-to-day interactions. Effective leaders can and must break down silos and seek out collaboration with new partners across the political and cultural divide. Together, they can foster a climate of trust among consumers, businesses and governments that will provide the foundation of a thriving food safety culture.

Pant ended the keynote address with a call to action to the global leaders of the food industry to take charge in making food better and safer for consumers in Asia and beyond.

Read more about the Global Food Safety Conference here.

About Pradeep Pant

Pradeep is a highly experienced senior business leader, now involved in business consulting and education. With over 37 years of experience in the FMCG industry, Pradeep is an expert in building businesses in both mature and emerging markets. He has managed a wide range of iconic brands across some of the world’s fastest-growing and complex emerging markets including China, India, Russia, Turkey, Middle East and ASEAN as well as developed markets like ANZ, Japan, Korea. He has a deep understanding of market dynamics and cultural diversity. He has a proven track record and passion for turning organisations around.

Pradeep was Executive Vice President and President of Asia Pacific (AP) and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (EEMEA) for Mondelēz International till end 2013. Launched on October 1, 2012, Mondelēz International consists of the global snacking and food brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc. Pradeep has served as President, Asia Pacific, since 2008 and he assumed his responsibility for the EEMEA region in 2012.

Previously, Pradeep was Regional Managing Director for Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for Fonterra Brands. He was a member of the Fonterra leadership team as well as the company’s global brands marketing group. Prior to Fonterra, he spent 19 years with The Gillette Company working in India, Russia, Turkey and Asia Pacific. Pradeep has also worked with Nestlé, J Walter Thompson and the Tata group.

Pradeep holds a Master of Management Studies degree from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Bombay University, and a BA with Honors degree in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Pradeep is also the Founding President of Food Industry Asia (FIA), an Advisory Board Member of SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business and a Senior Advisor to Hay.

FIA issues regular e-bulletins with analysis on relevant food and beverage industry issues across the region. To subscribe to this service, please click here