David Chavern to join the Consumer Brands Association as president and CEO in 2023

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

David Chavern will take the helm at the CBA on January 3, 2023. Image credit: Consumer Brands Association
David Chavern will take the helm at the CBA on January 3, 2023. Image credit: Consumer Brands Association

Related tags: Consumer Brands Association

David Chavern – currently CEO of publishing trade association News Media Alliance - is moving into new territory in January 2023 when he will join the Consumer Brands Association (CBA) as president and CEO. He will replace Geoff Freeman, who has been at the helm since August 2018 and led the organization – which was hemorrhaging members when he joined - through some turbulent times.

Formerly the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the CBA suffered a series of setbacks in 2017, losing a clutch of key members​  including Unilever, Nestlé, Mars, Danone, Tyson Foods and Campbell Soup, who cited differences over everything from added sugar labeling (Nestlé, for example, supported it, while the GMA was opposed) to voluntary sodium reduction initiatives (Nestlé was supportive, the GMA less so).

Campbell Soup, meanwhile, suggested its “values​” were increasingly at odds with those of the organization that purported to represent its interests, while Mars, Danone, Nestlé, and Unilever formed a new organization called the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance.

Since rebranding as the Consumer Brands Association​ in January 2020, however, the CBA has lured Campbell Soup and Danone and back into the fold, recruited 31 CPG members​, and “retained all CPG companies​ [with revenues of] over $500m in sales, growing organization revenue by 23%.”

Today, it represents 73 CPG companies and nearly 2,000 brands from across industry sectors — cleaning, personal care, food and beverage products.  

‘To know that Campbell’s … thought that disassociating from the organization would enhance their place in the market was a really stunning learning’

In an interview​ with FoodNavigator-USA in August, Freeman explained: “To know that Campbell’s … thought that disassociating from the organization would enhance their place in the market was a really stunning learning.”

He went on to leave his successor with some parting advice: “There is a tendency to defend the status quo, whatever the status quo is.

“But it assumes that you can stay constant. And the truth is, you’re either moving forward or moving backward, and I think the more we’re emphasizing moving forward, the more we’re emphasizing changing with the consumer, the more we’re emphasizing that defending the status quo is merely a strategy to lose slowly, the better off we are.”

The challenges ahead: ‘The way FDA currently is run is like a black hole…’

Freeman also highlighted some areas of frustration for CBA members including a lack of standardization over recycling, and a lack of visibility in the supply chain.

The federal government has no line of sight into the supply chain. … It could be a better partner as we seek to deal with the trucking problems we have in this country, the fact that 34-40% of all trucks are driving around empty. We need the federal government to be a better partner in coordinating backhaul logistics with the data they have.

He also sharply criticized the FDA in some candid remarks: “The way FDA currently is run is like a black hole. The silence we get today, only creates uncertainty.” Read more HERE.

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