Standing up for CPG: Consumer Brands Efforts in 2020 to Lead Change

The Consumer Brands Association is privileged to represent the industry whose products Americans rely on every day. That privilege took on new meaning when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the industry faced extraordinary challenges, from keeping its employees healthy, safe and working to ensuring the supply chain kept up with incredible demand. During that time, Consumer Brands supported the industry by shaping an environment that better enabled it to deliver for consumers and maintained a steady drumbeat on priorities beyond COVID-19 response.

Proactively and consistently led efforts to protect the CPG workforce.

  • Ensured CPG workers were classified as essential by the federal government, resulting in greater prioritization and access to testing and PPE, and successfully advocated for the totality of the industry to be prioritized in Phase 1b for vaccine distribution.
  • Served as a hub of up-to-the-minute information for members, offering resources, crucial insights on agency guidance, company best practices and cross-industry intelligence that drove nearly 400,000 visits to the Consumer Brands website.
  • Spearheaded the contactless delivery task force bringing together 27 manufacturers, 19 carriers and 11 retailers to drive fundamental changes to worker safety through the adoption of touchless solutions.

Removed barriers to ensure stocked shelves for consumers.

  • Worked with government to increase trucking capacity by lifting weight restrictions and extending hours-of-service flexibility across industries.
  • Created the Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain Council, a group of 35 trade associations aligned to address supply chain challenges.
  • Coordinated with the Department of Justice to combat price gouging in the early days of the pandemic.
  • Worked with regulators to boost production of disinfecting products by expediting processes with the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Worked with the Food and Drug Administration to provide temporary labeling flexibility to food manufacturers to ensure maximum supply chain efficiency.
  • Coordinated with the EPA to enact new policies that reduced review times on new cleaning product claims to speed needed goods to market.
  • Launched the Clean Classroom Calculator as a resource to estimate the disinfectant products PK-12 schools need to properly protect against COVID-19.
  • Worked with the State Department to urge cooperation to stabilize global supply chains.
  • Penned an open letter to the Trump administration, state governors and local elected officials for a consistent definition of “critical infrastructure,” resulting in states adopting DHS’s guidance.

Led meaningful change on packaging sustainability.

  • Spearheaded the Recycling Leadership Council, a comprehensive group of stakeholders brought together from consumer-facing industries, packaging companies, NGOs and the recycling ecosystem to fundamentally reimagine the U.S. recycling system.
  • Launched Consumer Brands’ recycling policy platform, putting forward for the first time the industry’s position to fix the U.S. recycling system, with an emphasis on innovation, shared responsibility and scalable solutions. Consumer Brands was the first of its peer organizations to state clearly what the organization stands for on recycling and packaging policy.
  • Actively engaged on state proposals across the country and testified before the U.S. Senate on the need for recycling infrastructure improvements, end-market development and standardized recycling reporting and data.
  • Released research on Americans’ views of plastics, packaging and health and safety in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, an effort organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Recycling Partnership and the World Wildlife Fund, to promote a circular economy for plastics.

Elevated the industry through connection with peers.

  • Brought together nearly 5,000 CPG professionals for CPG Speaks events, featuring top leaders sharing their insights on the biggest challenges the industry is facing, from meeting demand during the pandemic to creating meaningful change through diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Regularly convened member companies to speak directly with key members of Congress and shared unique and timely insights on the political landscape through the inaugural Issues Watch event and ongoing bi-weekly updates.
  • Engaged hundreds of industry professionals through a series of virtual exchanges for CEOs and regulatory, supply chain and legal executives.
  • Created monthly peer-to-peer exchanges and roundtables for members to discuss regulatory questions and technical challenges, including for implementation of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) and Highly Refined Ingredient compliance.

Shaped a compelling narrative about the value of the industry.

  • Relaunched as Consumer Brands, a change that better positioned the association to be a relentless champion of the industry — right before one of its toughest challenges.
  • Engaged proactively with the media to highlight CPG’s essential work during COVID-19 and consumers’ rising trust in an industry that continued to deliver through a time of need.
  • Developed a campaign to thank CPG frontline workers — including the production of a video that garnered more than 230,000 views — and showcase the value of the industry as a force for good at a critical time.
  • Surveyed consumers throughout the pandemic to learn their real-time feelings about the coronavirus pandemic as the situation evolved, enabling CPG companies to best meet the needs of consumers throughout.
  • Debuted Consumer Brands’ economic indicator to analyze the financial performance of the CPG industry.

Laid the foundation for continued growth.

  • Confirmed with USDA that brands can use an intermediate landing page that digitally marries regulatory compliance with brand priorities and information; things like recycling, recipes and loyalty rewards, furthering the value of SmartLabel for the industry and consumers alike.
  • Advocated for federal regulation of the CBD market and secured a total of $6 million in congressional funding to support regulatory activity, research and policy development.
  • Supported efforts with the Environmental Protection Agency to allow certain ingredients used in regulated household products may be digitally disclosed, breaking new ground for EPA and building on Consumer Brands’ digital disclosure work that will strengthen consumer transparency.
  • Led coalition to include food ingredient transparency policy in the 2021 National Defense Act Authorization, ensuring the opportunity to comment before changes are made.

While 2020 brought unforeseen challenges to the industry, CPG consistently rose to the occasion and demonstrated its significance and tenacity. As we begin 2021, brands will face new challenges while maintaining their dedication to delivering for consumers. Simultaneously, Consumer Brands will be relentlessly focused on advocating for the entirety of consumer packaged goods, uniting the industry to learn from each other and providing valuable services to its member companies in the year ahead.