With a full roster of new leaders, GMA’s CEO promises ‘aggressive and effective’ industry promotion

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

With a full roster of new leaders, GMA’s CEO promises ‘aggressive and effective’ industry promotion
With the addition of two executives to the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s leadership team, the once-beleaguered trade group continues to rebuild and reinvent itself under the leadership of new CEO Geoff Freeman, who took the helm last August after several high-profile food and beverage companies left in late 2017.

The group announced yesterday that the addition of Bryan Zumwalt as the executive vice president of public affairs and Stacy Papadopoulos as general counsel and senior vice president of operations and special initiatives will “complete the organization’s senior leadership,”​ which Freeman overhauled as part of a larger effort to realign the trade group with its members’ values and needs.

“Both Stacy and Bryan have previous trade association experience and a proven track record of success in their fields,”​ Freeman told FoodNavigator-USA, adding, “They both are willing to embrace a challenge and are committed to achieving long-term success for the CPG industry and our organization.”

In his new position, Zumwalt “will lead all of GMA advocacy activities and will be executing on our plans to build frictionless supply chains, enhance packaging sustainability and drive smart regulation,”​ Freeman said.

To do this, he likely will pull on his previous experience as vice president of federal affairs for the American Chemistry Council where he worked with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act, according to GMA.

The task before Zumwalt plays directly to three of the four pillars around which GMA is refashioning itself.  In April, Freeman told members at the association’s Science Forum in Washington, DC, that the trade group wants to drive smart uniform regulation, enhance packaging sustainability, build a frictionless supply chain and build trust.

With regards to the association’s approach to legislation and regulation, Freeman told attendees that GMA was going on the offensive​, because the old strategy of defending the status quo “is a strategy to lose slowly.”

While Zumwalt focuses on those areas, Freeman said Papadopoulos will “streamline GMA’s operations” ​with her “inimitable blend of operational and legal acumen,”​ which she honed while serving as general counsel and interim CEO of the American Gaming Association, where she grew trade revenue by more than 50%.

At GMA, one of Papadopoulos’ “top priorities”​ will be “taking SmartLabel to new heights,”​ Freeman said. He added that SmartLabel, which is a standardized, yet flexible online platform designed to share detailed product information with consumers, “has immense potential to revolutionize product disclosure and the opportunity to earn substantial consumer adoption.”

The platform, which launched in late 2015, allows manufacturers and brands to provide consumers with additional information that they want, but which won’t fit on labels, such as where ingredients are sourced or if they were genetically engineered or modified. By doing this, SmartLabel also speaks to GMA’s fourth pillar – building trust – because it seeks to add transparency.

Freeman added during the Science Forum that leadership would work with members and the trade group’s board to identify other ways to increase trust as well as identify elements that are harming it.

Other members of the senior leadership team who have joined GMA under Freeman’s stewardship include Dr. Betsy Booren as senior vice president of science and technology, and Brandon Partridge, senior vice president of member engagement.

Now that the leadership team is fully established, Freeman said that GMA “will be relentlessly focused on our top priorities and becoming an outspoken champion of the consumer packaged goods industry.”

He added members and other stakeholders should “stay tuned for aggressive and effective promotion of all our industry has to offer.”

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