The Grocery Manufacturers Association is responding to “Fed Up,” a documentary film that is slated for widespread release Friday, with a “facts” website. The movie, produced and narrated by Katie Couric, explores the childhood obesity epidemic and its apparent causes. The film premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
“Our companies have been trusted by generations of families to provide products that are safe, nutritious, affordable, time-saving and well-balanced. This is a responsibility that we take seriously and will never forget,” says GMA President and and CEO Pamela G. Bailey.
“We are encouraged by the fact that, earlier this year, CDC studies found childhood obesity had been reduced by as much as 43 percent. But we are constantly focused on moving forward and creating more healthful, affordable options that allow all consumers to make food choices that are right for their children and families.
“Unfortunately, ‘Fed Up’ provides an inaccurate view of the packaged food industry. Rather than identifying successful policies or ongoing efforts to find real and practical solutions to obesity, it adopts a short-sighted, confrontational and misleading approach by cherry-picking facts to fit a narrative, getting the facts wrong and simply ignoring the progress that has been made over the last decade in providing families with healthier options at home and at school.
“Reducing obesity requires everyone to do their part. For the food and beverage industry, this means constantly working to provide consumers—especially parents—with healthier options and the information they need to make choices that are right for their families.
“We will continue working across the food industry and with all stakeholders to provide America’s families with food products that are safe, nutritious, affordable, time-saving and well-balanced.”
GMA has launched a website that includes what it says are the inaccuracies portrayed in “Fed Up.”
GMA responded earlier this year to the film when it premiered at Sundance. Find that response here.
The film, however, has its proponents.
Bon Appétit Management Co. CEO Fedele Bauccio, for instance, joined the “Fed Up” advisory board at the invitation of executive producer Couric and producer Laurie David. Bon Appétit has partnered with several of its corporate clients to support the “Fed Up Challenge” in its cafés, inviting its guests to commit to cutting out all sugar for 10 days.
“’Fed Up’ shows how added sweeteners have become a terrible problem for us as a nation,” says Fedele. “At Bon Appétit, we’ve always cooked everything from scratch. Our chefs rely on top-quality ingredients, herbs and spices—not sugar—for flavor. But we care about our guests’ well-being when they leave our cafés, too. We know that they are concerned about their health and that of their families.”
Beginning Monday, employees dining at the corporate cafés for SAP (in Palo Alto, Calif.), Adobe (San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Lehi, Utah), Medtronic (Minneapolis), SAS (Cary, N.C.) and several others can opt for special Fed Up Challenge breakfast and lunch menu items from their Bon Appétit chefs, indicated by a red Unsweetened sticker. The Bon Appétit teams also will source unsweetened versions of items that often contain hidden sugars, such as yogurt, sandwich bread, tortillas and condiments, according to the company.
“The Fed Up Challenge information tables will provide materials on continuing the Challenge away from work, resources on the many other names sugar hides under in packaged foods and the surprising amount of sugar found in common beverages including fruit juices,” Bon Appétit says. “Unsweetened ‘spa waters’ and house-brewed iced teas will provide zero-sugar thirst quenching, while Bon Appétit Hydrate the Healthy Way posters placed at soda dispensers will remind guests that soda contains considerable amounts of sugar.
“The Bon Appétit teams and its clients have ‘sweetened the deal’ for taking the Challenge by offering drawings for tickets to see the movie when it opens at local theaters. At SAP, the corporate Fit Club has donated three FitBit wellness trackers for those who opt for Challenge menu items all week and, at Medtronic, the campus Wellness Center will donate three free memberships.”
Adds “Fed Up” producer David, “Bon Appétit has long been a leader in offering healthy, sustainably sourced food for Americans at work and at school. It’s an honor to have their support in helping people learn to feed themselves in a similar way at home.”
In October, Bon Appétit says it will roll out a sugar-free education campaign companywide at hundreds of locations in 32 states for Food Day 2014.
GMA to honor retired Walmart CEO Mike Duke
In other GMA news, the association will honor retired Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke with the 2014 GMA Hall of Achievement Award, the organization’s highest honor, at its Leadership Forum on Aug. 23 in Colorado.
“Leaders in the consumer packaged goods industry are committed to making a difference in the everyday lives of consumers but, even among this accomplished group, the noteworthy innovations and far-reaching impact Mike Duke has had stand out,” said GMA’s’ Bailey. “Mike is an exemplary leader whose integrity, dynamism and ingenuity have made our industry stronger and the lives of consumers better. It will be an honor for GMA to present him with the 2014 Hall of Achievement Award.”
Duke’s tenure at Walmart began in 1995, and he quickly rose through the ranks, leading logistics, distribution and administration divisions. In 2005 he assumed responsibility for its international arm and also served as vice chairman. Duke was named president and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc. in 2009, becoming just the fourth person to hold the position in the retailer’s history. As CEO, he is credited with delivering strong financial performances while making critical investments in technology and human resources to support Walmart’s global expansion. Duke has also been a champion of the company’s efforts to address social and environmental issues. During his tenure, the company opened more than 220 stores in food deserts across the U.S., launched the Great For You icon to help customers quickly and easily identify more nutritious foods for their families, saved customers more than $3.5 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables, donated more than 1.58 billion pounds of food to local food banks and pledged to source $20 billion in goods from women-owned businesses by 2016. Today, Duke serves as chairman of the executive committee of the Walmart board. Prior to joining Walmart, Duke gained 23 years of retail experience as an executive with Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores.
Duke has served on the board of directors of the Consumer Goods Forum and the executive committee of the Business Roundtable. He currently sits on the executive board of Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business and on the board of advisors of the University of Arkansas and Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing, China.
The GMA Leadership Forum will be held Aug. 22-24 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The Hall of Achievement Awards will be presented as part of the conference program on Saturday, Aug. 23.