The move follows an announcement made by Campbell Soup over the summer that it was leaving the GMA at the year-end after finding itself “at odds with some of the positions” of the trade association.
Nestlé has not commented on the decision, but Politico – which first reported Nestlé’s plans to leave the trade association – speculated that it might reflect differences of opinion over added sugar labeling (Nestlé supported it, the GMA was opposed), voluntary sodium reduction initiatives (Nestlé is supportive, the GMA less so), and mandatory GMO labeling (Politico alleges that Nestlé officials were “not happy with the GMA's gung-ho opposition”).
In a statement sent to reporters seeking comment, Roger Lowe, executive vice president of strategic communications at GMA, said: “Companies decide to join and leave trade associations for a variety of reasons over time. We are disappointed when a member company decides to leave our trade association and pleased when companies of all sizes join to be part of our work on consumer transparency, sustainability, product safety, nutrition and retailer collaboration.
"As the leading trade association for food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers, GMA is focused on our work in the months and years ahead on industry’s behalf on product labeling, nutrition, food safety, clear science-based ingredient disclosure, trade and tax issues...
"Nestlé's participation in GMA will be missed, and we hope there will be a time when they will rejoin us.”
Campbell Soup at odds with GMA
Nestlé is not commenting publicly on the reasons behind the decision. However, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison was a bit more forthcoming when asked why Campbell was leaving during the company's annual investor day in July, explaining:
"There's two ways to look at it, why did you decide to leave it? We actually turned it around and said, why would we stay in it?
"The GMA has grown over the past few years, more as a lobbying and regulatory association dealing with a lot of the regulatory issues in the food industry. What we have experienced is finding ourselves at odds with some of the positions.
"And when you think about it, you step back, it's comprised of mostly very large food companies and not a lot of small companies and our philosophy seems to be aligning more with the smaller food companies. And so we therefore, as a leadership team made a decision that if you're going to associate, you want to associate with an association that shares your values. And so therefore, we made that decision."