If you are planning to join us in Nice for the industry's annual rendezvous to advance food safety worldwide, you may want an update about how the programme is shaping up. In fact, let’s take a moment to look at the incredible committee working behind the scenes to craft your experience at the 19th edition of the Conference, which is already set to gather more than a thousand industry leaders on the French Riviera next February.
Who are they? We are fortunate to have a conference committee composed of dedicated experts bringing diverse perspectives to the table, both in terms of industry background - retail, manufacturing, food service, service providers, e-commerce and academia - and geographical and cultural backgrounds across the Americas, Asia and Europe.
“I’m loving the committee – international, diverse and knowledgeable in so many aspects" said Committee Member Sarah Blanchard from METRO. "This is making for great exchanges and debates!” And they are volunteering their time and expertise on top of their day jobs, as with all GFSI working groups and committees.
Their task is not an easy one - constructing the programme for the global food industry’s annual rendezvous and making sure there is something for everyone, whether you are just starting in the food safety space, or whether you are one of those delegates who has not missed a single conference since the beginning! Keeping you on your toes throughout the packed three-day programme, while bringing both the high-level and technical perspectives you’ve come to expect.
And after the record-breaking 18th edition in Tokyo this spring, everyone agrees that the bar is set high. But as Frédéric René, Chair of the 2019 Conference Committee, assured the packed plenary room at the close of the 2018 conference, they are up the challenge. "It will be difficult to compete with this year, but the French never give up.”
One thing becomes immediately apparent when the committee are at work – they are dedicated to providing a holistic view of food safety, securing a kaleidoscope of different perspectives. In the opening plenaries alone, they are working to bring together the CEO perspective, the scientific perspective, the consumer perspective and the regulatory perspective. The rest of the draft programme echoes this commitment, with topics that span the supply chain and speakers that span the globe.
It is no accident that the theme identified for the 2019 Conference is Emerging Challenges and the Future of Food Safety. The committee's thinking is guided by today's rapidly-changing landscape and both the new challenges and new opportunities it brings with it. The food industry is experiencing extensive, exponential change and all signs point to more changes to come. How can industry leaders stay one step ahead? The GFSI stage is the place for innovators and scientists to share new techniques and technologies; it is also the place for industry veterans to share their experiences and learnings.
In fact, science is back on the programme in a bigger way for the 2019 edition, as the industry looks to scientists and academics for new solutions to emerging challenges. Breakout sessions are the opportunity to zoom in on specific issues, and the future of microbiology will certainly be under the microscope. Allergen management is also a vital issue that has been receiving much attention in recent events, a sign that more collaborative multi-stakeholder work must be done on the subject. Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop robust food safety systems is another priority for the committee, as SMEs are undeniably critical players in a safe food supply chain.
The committee clearly have the consumer at heart. After all, we are all consumers at the end of the day and securing a safe food supply is at the core of nearly every other achievement. That means strengthening food safety as a stepping stone towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also means harnessing innovative methods to meet ever-changing consumer demand at a time when the way consumers interact with brands, buy and consume their food is rapidly evolving.
We would like to thank the entire committee again for their time and commitment to building a great 2019 GFSI Conference. Stay tuned for more news about the GFSI Conference with the hashtag #gfsi19 and by subscribing to receive our updates.
The Consumer Goods Forum
Anne Gerardi, GFSI Senior Manager, The Consumer Goods Forum, France
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