Four reasons to check out FERN’s SXSW panel on Big Food

Next week, FERN is headed to Austin, where I’m moderating two panels at SXSW! One of them — The Future of Big Food: What’s at Stake? — will take on big questions about where Big Food companies are headed. As eaters increasingly want transparency about ingredients, healthier options, and more sustainable packaging, where does that leave manufacturers? And will new labeling regulations shift the grocery environment? (No paywall)

Bailey to retire as chief of grocery trade group

Pamela Bailey, the chief executive of the Grocery Manufacturers Association for nearly a decade, announced she will retire later this year. Bailey said the GMA board "continues to engage in the reinvention process to build the association of the future," so "it is best they do so in concert with their leader of the future."

Big-name companies abandon food industry trade group

A Washington heavyweight among food industry trade groups, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, has lost two additional members who are long-time titans in the sector, Hershey and Cargill, reported Politico.

DC’s food lobby splinters amid squabbles

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a giant among trade groups, is beginning to bleed members, with Nestlé the latest foodmaker to pull out, says Politico. "Complacency and a lack of leadership" at GMA are a factor, along with the hurly-burly of competing for sales in an evolving marketplace, it says.

Top food companies say there are billions to be made by cutting food waste

The average business saves at least $14 for every dollar spent on reducing food waste, according to a new study by Champions 12.3, a coalition of governments, retailers, research organizations and advocates determined to reach the UN’s global goal of cutting food waste at the producer and consumer levels in half by 2030. Some of the group's heavy hitters include Kellogg Company, Sodexo, WRI, and Tesco, a popular UK chain of supermarkets.

Judge slaps GMA with $18 million campaign-finance fine

The Grocery Manufacturers Association says it will "vigorously pursue its options to correct" the record-setting $18 million fine levied on it by a Washington state judge for violating campaign finance laws in the 2013 state referendum on labeling GMO foods.

Senate passes GMO-disclosure bill that also pre-empts state law

Two decades into the era of agricultural biotechnology, the Senate passed, 63-30, a bill that requires foodmakers nationwide to say if their products contain GMO ingredients. The bill, which also pre-empts state GMO food-labeling laws, now goes to the House for action one week before Congress adjourns for the summer.

As time runs out for GMO-food-label legislation, Vermont stands alone

Vermont will stand alone among states when its first-in-the-nation GMO-food-labeling law takes effect on July 1. Some food companies already have changed their labels nationwide to assure compliance with the Vermont law and a spokeswoman for Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts said, "We hope to have something ready very soon" to preempt state labeling.

Foodmakers say ‘not so fast’ to FDA call for less salt in food

The FDA called on foodmakers and restaurateurs to reduce sharply the amount of salt in their products to help Americans avoid high blood pressure and the risk of chronic illness. The food industry balked, saying it already has low-salt products on sale and that the science on healthy salt levels was not as clear as the government says.