Looking back at the Year of the Horse

As we prepare to welcome the Year of the Ram (or Sheep or Goat depending on your interpretation), the FIA Secretariat takes a look back on a year of important milestones for the food and beverage industry in Asia.

FEBRUARY 2014: Three New Members Join FIA
FIA ushered in the Year of the Horse with some prominent new Members. This included top performing companies ARYZTA, Danone, The Hershey Company and Perfetti van Melle, bringing FIA’s total membership to 24 companies. Rick Camacho, Vice President Supply Chain at The Hershey Company summed up the feeling of the group, saying “As we focus on growing our presence here in Asia, we’re delighted to be joining FIA. We believe that working collaboratively with FIA’s other member companies will help us tackle pre-competitive opportunities and challenges within the region’s food industry,”

FEBRUARY 2014: The Food Industry Called on ASEAN Leaders to Accelerate Harmonisation
The ASEAN Food & Beverage Alliance (AFBA), published its first White Paper, calling on ASEAN Member States to speed up the harmonisation of food standards across ASEAN and unlock the economic potential of the agri-food sector by accelerating progress towards a single economic community by 2015.

The White Paper entitled “ASEAN Harmonisation in the Food Sector”, was released ahead of the Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) in Myanmar, highlighting five key areas where harmonisation or ‘mutual recognition’ of food standards would greatly enhance overall food trade for the benefit of businesses and consumers in all ten member states.

MARCH 2014: The Philippines Launches Nutrition Labelling Campaign
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Philippines teamed up with the Philippine Food Chamber o help encourage the voluntary implementation of front-of-pack nutrition labels, and drive nutritional literacy in the country. Jointly launching a national awareness campaign, they encouraged food and beverage manufacturers to adopt easy to use nutrition labelling, based on the internationally-recognised Guideline Daily Amounts or GDAs. These efforts support ongoing industry initiatives to encourage healthier lifestyles in the Philippines.

MARCH 2014: FIA Responds to WHO proposals for new Sugar Guidelines
FIA submitted feedback on the WHO’s draft guideline on sugars intake, which made a conditional recommendation to reduce intake of free sugars from 10% to below 5% of total energy intake per day based on dental caries considerations. FIA welcomed the opportunity to comment on the proposal, stressing that any approach to policy development should be both evidence-based and collaborative. The food and beverage industry has an important role to play in supporting the stated priorities of WHO but from the evidence presented in the new guideline, it appears to be insufficient scientific support to justify lowering the current WHO guideline on consumption of free sugars from 10% to 5%. The evidence is classified by the authors to be of very low quality.

APRIL 2014: Voluntary Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling Guidelines Adopted by Food Companies
At the FIA Annual General Meeting in April, FIA launched a pan-Asia guideline on voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labelling. 25 Companies voluntarily committed to providing practical and easy-to-understand nutrition information for all consumers in Asia. The provision of consistent labels forms the cornerstone of any policy framework to promote healthy food choices. FIA has urged all stakeholders to ally behind a single, consistent labelling approach across Asia. To download the Industry Guideline and Toolkit, please click here.

MAY 2014: FIA Elects New President
The election of four new Office Bearers saw the appointment of Mr Amit Banati (Kellogg Company) as FIA President, Mr Ehab AbouOaf (Mars Inc.) as FIA Vice-President, Mr Manish Yadav (McDonald’s) as FIA Treasurer, and Mr Declan MacFadden (Symrise) as FIA Secretary.

The new Governance Board comprises a diverse team of seasoned industry leaders, representing a varied group of companies and categories, spanning the length and breadth of the supply chain in Asia. They step into the shoes of the outgoing leadership group, led by Umran Beba from PepsiCo who oversaw a vibrant period of growth at FIA.

JUNE 2014: Ground-Breaking Study on Childhood Obesity
A ground-breaking study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine established that the US’s ban on child-directed fast food TV advertising has been the least impactful measure to reduce childhood obesity. Research indicates that physical activity programmes were the most effective approach. The study, undertaken by 10 researchers from various institutions in the US, focused on three long-term U.S. federal policies adopted since 2002 to tackle childhood obesity: after-school physical activity programmes, sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) excise tax and bans on fast food television advertising which is targeted towards children.

JULY 2014: Grow Asia: Innovation through Partnership for Sustainable Food Supply Chains
The World Economic Forum WEF), in partnership with the ASEAN Secretariat and other key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, launched the Grow Asia Partnership to catalyse action on food security and sustainable and inclusive agriculture in Southeast Asia. The initiative aims to serve as a platform for multiple stakeholders to work together to effect change. FIA played a leading role at the inaugural Forum in Manila and will continue to support the Grow Asia Partnership.

AUGUST 2014: China's New Food Law: Five Significant Changes
Regulators in China started fleshing out the legislative skeleton outlined in China's new Food Law. The revised draft was expanded from 104 articles to 159 articles with the purpose of building the most stringent food legislative and regulatory system ever in China. Paul O’Brien summarised some of the notable changes, including:
  • Health Food Filing (Article 64-68)
  • Total Supply Chain Management (Importer emphasis Articles 86-97)
  • New Food Material Safety Assessment Dossier Filing
  • Domestic Infant Formula Manufacturer Credit Rating System (Article 111)
  • Food Recall System (Article 75,94,98)

SEPTEMBER 2014: APEC Leaders Endorse Public-Private Actions on Food Safety and Advertising
Food Safety was high on the agenda at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Beijing. Referring to an initiative that has enjoyed strong support from FIA and other industry associations, the leaders appreciated the efforts of the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) to help ensure the safety of food produced and traded in the APEC region. Furthermore, they endorsed the APEC Action Agenda on Advertising Standards and Practice Development to promote alignment of advertising standards and reduce the cost of doing business across the region.

SEPTEMBER 2014: Global CEOs Renew Their Commitments on Health & Wellness
Eleven CEOs from the world’s leading food and beverage companies came together to announce a renewed set of commitments that will guide their global health and wellness strategies over coming years. In a letter to Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the company heads reiterated their collective stance on heightening efforts to support the goals of the 2011 UN Political Declaration and the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

OCTOBER 2014: FIA Shortlisted for Gold Standard Awards 2014
FIA was shortlisted in two categories for the coveted Gold Standard Awards. With over 200 nominations, the programme hosted by PublicAffairsAsia continues to set the benchmark for excellence for corporate affairs and communications programmes in Asia Pacific. In only its fourth year of operation, the FIA Secretariat was proud to be shortlisted for the Gold Standard Award for Country/Trade Promotion and the Gold Standard Award for ‘In House’ Team of the Year alongside other high profile brands, including Microsoft, DBS, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and the British Council.

NOVEMBER 2014: Singapore Wins the Gold Standard Award for Policy Maker of the Year
Singapore Ministry of Health was recognised as Policy Maker of the Year and collected the prestigious Gold Standard Award at a ceremony in Hong Kong hosted by PublicAffairsAsia. The award recognised Singapore’s success in convening a broad mix of stakeholders from government, business, media and consumer groups to design a ground-breaking code on marketing food to children. The multi-stakeholder Committee on Advertising Guidelines, which was co-chaired by the Ministry of Health and the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), put in place an implementable framework to shift the balance of advertising to foods and meals that are healthier in nutrient composition. FIA played a key role in this dialogue as did the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

NOVEMBER 2014: Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2)
The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) took place in Rome. This inter-governmental meeting on nutrition was jointly organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Representatives from governments, the private sector and civil society actively participated in this important meeting, which highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships as key to tackling global nutritional challenges.

Speaking on behalf of the food industry, Rocco Renaldi, Secretary General of the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), underlined the central role that nutrition plays in increasing global development and well-being. ‘Businesses both have an incentive and a responsibility to be part of this global effort’, he said, highlighting current initiatives to expand private sector commitments to responsive marketing, food labelling, research and innovation.

DECEMBER 2014: Creating and Sustaining an Essential Partnership for Food Safety
The Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) held its third annual meeting in Cape Town, where FIA joined forces with other GFSP partners to discuss food safety capacity building needs in developing countries. The GFSP adopted a new training programme in China, where business and governments will work together to organise a “Training of Trainers” programme for Chinese suppliers on food safety competencies based on the GFSI Global Markets principals. The World Bank expressed hope that the training will cascade down through provincial supply chains by developing food safety skills for hundreds of food practitioners.

JANUARY 2015: Regulatory Harmonisation on the Davos Agenda
As the Year of the Horse gallops to a close, Senior government and business leaders from ASEAN gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos to discuss the state of the global economy and map the key transformations reshaping the world. A significant focus of the discussions was on ASEAN, where government and business leaders evaluated whether the region is on the right track towards achieving ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015.

Meanwhile, back in Asia, FIA welcomed three new members: DSM, LOTTE and Yum! Brands, and held its first Joint Committee Meeting of 2015. The high level meeting set the tone for a fast-paced agenda for FIA this year covering regional projects on Food Safety, Harmonisation and Food Innovation.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members a Prosperous and Healthy Year of the Ram!

Gong Xi Fa Cai

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