Industry participated in consultations and conferences held by the United Nations (UN), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
ALAIAB is Latin America's umbrella trade alliance, comprised of 22 industry organizations, including the Brazilian Association of Food Industries (ABIA), the Mexican Council of the Consumer Products Industry (ConMéxico), and the Costa Rican Chamber of the Food Industry (CACIA), among others.
35th FAO regional conference, WHO consultations and UN declaration on NCDs
Mario Montero, president of the ALAIAB, said 2018 had been an extremely interesting year for industry.
“From the perspective of business associations, the year was characterized by the openness of some spaces which led to the incorporation of the food industry in spaces of dialogue, participation and opinion on issues related to health promotion and the relevant role that this sector has as a strategic and key player,” Montero told FoodNavigator-LATAM.
For example, ALAIAB participated in the 35th FAO Regional Conference in Jamaica this year, signaling a “historical participation of industry and the private sector” in the processes to construct proposals around production, sustainability and health and nutrition, among other issues. The private sector's declaration was even incorporated into the FAO's final report.
The alliance also contributed to consultations and dialogue opened up by the World Health Organization (WHO) High Level Commission on global issues, including non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which eventually led to a political declaration agreed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in September - establishing guidelines, recommendations and commitments for a global approach.
“Both in the FAO and United Nations, the food industry was exposed as a key and relevant actor that can make an important contribution to meet the challenges faced by modern society on issues such as productivity, sustainability, nutrition, economic growth and job creation,” Montero said.
Lorena Cerdán Torres, director of ConMéxico, agreed and said the UN's political declaration on NCD's really recognized the “multi-stakeholder approach and scientific-based evidence” needed to build public policies to combat overweight, obesity and diabetes.
“This is an extremely important issue for the global food industry that allows us to continue working with our governments in a collaborative path,” she said.
Industry must continue to address 'important challenges' in 2019
Montero said it was important industry continued to engage and consider health an nutrition a top priority moving into 2019.
“The food industry has the enormous challenge of continuing and strengthening its permanent innovation capacities, enabling it to address important challenges that characterize the current population,” he said.
A recent UN report concluded obesity was “the biggest nutrition threat” in Latin America and changes to food patterns one of the main causes.
“Today, there are very important issues such as the fight against bad nutrition in their different manifestations; equally important is the responsible look at the theme of sustainability; but of equal magnitude, all countries require powerful companies in their ability to generate employment conditions and general well-being,” Montero said.
It was therefore vital, he said, that the food and beverage industry remained positively engaged in such matters in 2019 as well, particularly with political decision makers, governors, congressmen and international agencies.