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More Companies Leaving National Grocery Association
USAgNet - 01/12/2018

The Hershey Company and Cargill are the latest food giants to part ways with the Grocery Manufacturers Association as a raft of companies have dropped the association amid a shakeup in the food industry.

Politico reports that at least eight major companies have now bailed on GMA, the largest food industry association in Washington, including heavyweights like Campbell Soup Co., Nestle, Dean Foods, Mars, Tyson and Unilever.

Nearly all of the companies that have broken with the group have publicly offered only vague explanations for leaving, but the departures come as GMA struggles to navigate deep divisions within its membership on how to respond to rapidly changing consumer preferences.

Many of the companies that have left are viewed as more progressive and had unsuccessfully fought to push GMA into adopting more transparent and consumer-friendly policies like GMO labeling. Nestle and Mars, for example, were among a handful of companies that backed Obama administration efforts to mandate added sugars labeling and encourage food companies to cut back on sodium voluntarily -- two policies that GMA lobbied against.

Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for the Hershey Company, noted in a statement to POLITICO that the company evaluates its trade memberships each year.

"As a result of this year's review process, we will not renew our membership with GMA for 2018," Beckman said. "We will continue to focus our time and resources in 2018 on initiatives that benefit consumers, such as product transparency and delivering a wider range of great snack options to delight consumers. The food and retail environment is dynamic and the entire CPG industry is adapting and operating differently to meet the changing needs of consumers."

Asked about other trade groups, Beckman said Hershey would remain in the National Confectioners Association but would continue to evaluate all its trade association memberships.

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