Katherine Rich: skills abound in FGC

One of the privileges of working at FGC is that every day I get to talk to such fascinating people.

Be they from member companies when I am out and about visiting them, related industries and businesses, or regulators and law makers, they all contribute in some way to the single most important sector of the economy.

The wider food and grocery sector, of which the council represents the leading manufacturers and suppliers, contributes 60% ($31 billion) of the country's total merchandise exports, and $34 billion of domestic retail sales. At 44% it's also the biggest manufacturing sector by income, employing about 400,000 people, or one in five of our workforce.

It's big business that needs skilled people to keep it running at optimum, and once a month I sit around a table with some of those people - the FGC Board.

Here's what I mean: The Chair is Tim Dean, Managing Director of Goodman Fielder NZ, and formerly General Manager of Fonterra Brands NZ; the Vice-Chair is Scott MacKay, CEO of Results for Customers. Other members are Gerry Lynch, CEO of Delmaine Fine Foods, and formerly General Manager of Mars NZ; Mike Pretty, Managing Director of Heinz Wattie's; and Shane Webby, Director of Twin Agencies, and formerly General Manager Sales at Heinz Wattie's.

If that's not high-powered enough, we recently welcomed three additional members, all of them country managers of global companies who bring a wealth of international experience: Christian Abboud, CEO and Country Manager of Nestlé NZ, Aurelie de Cremiers, Country Manager of L'Oreal NZ, and Elizabeth Metz, General Manager of Kimberly-Clark NZ.

They all play a key role in ensuring FGC's 200-plus member companies have access to the best advice, information, and opportunities - be they domestic or globally facing.

They do that by enabling and supporting me and our small secretariat to work on issues of concern and interest to members and the industry, make representations to the Government, retailers, and other organisations, and act as a forum to discuss and pursue those issues. Key among that work is liaising with organisations such as retailers, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Health, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and the Environmental Protection Authority on relevant issues, legislation and trade practices, and leading the development of industry standards, food safety and codes of practice.

In addition to the Board and the secretariat, the other key component is our specialised working groups.

They consist of members with an expertise in areas vital to FGC and the industry:

  • Export Initiative - aimed at exporters and those looking to export, it provides updates and resources for members, and organises speakers and networking events.
  • Health & Regulatory - comprises technical and nutrition experts from the membership who advise on a range of topics, including Healthier New Zealanders Initiative, Code on Marketing to Children, Health Stars, Food Standards Code, Food Safety, and Country of Origin Labelling.
  • Industry Relations & Supply Chain - works with retail partners and on supply chain efficiency, runs workshops and events, and provides advice, support and advocacy to members.
  • Safety - consists of suppliers and retailers, with a focus on improving safety across the industry.
  • Membership Services - works to get for members the best value out of their membership by organising seminars, workshops, courses, networking opportunities, and our half-yearly and annual conferences.
  • Sales & Marketing - senior managers who represent outsourcing organisations on issues that affect the industry and its suppliers.
  • Talent & Diversity - focuses on making FMCG the industry of choice for careers, and helps build diversity and inclusion into members' workplaces.

FGC is fortunate to have at its disposal a membership of skilled people who in turn provide a range of vital services to help the wider membership grow. It's about members helping members. If you would like to know more about the Food & Grocery Council, visit our website www.fgc.org.nz or give us a call.


(as published in FMCG Business magazine, October)