I am an outspoken critic of Nestlé's unethical business practices. Although I have been aware of some of the issues with Nestlé for years, I have become more aware of the depth and breadth of the issues since my interaction with both Nestlé and the Nestlé Family Bloggers starting last September. This post provides an overview of the Nestlé problem, links to key resources, and links to my past posts and discussion on this issue.
Overview of Nestlé's Unethical Business Practices
Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:
- Promoting infant formula with misleading and harmful strategies that violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and put babies at risk (see Baby Milk Action's Briefing on Nestle Updated July 2010 and the Boycott Nestle - and other action to protect infant health blog);
- Using suppliers that violate human rights (e.g purchasing milk from Mugabe, buying cocoa from suppliers that use child slaves) and destroy the environment (e.g. palm oil from rainforest);
- Controlling and abusing of water sources in its bottled water operations (e.g. in United States and in Brazil);
- Promoting unhealthy food, especially for young children;
- Trade union busting activities and denying the rights of workers to collectively bargain;
- …and more (see Nestle Critics Portal and Corporate Watch: Nestle SA: Corporate Crimes).
Nestlé defends its unethical business practices and uses doublespeak, denials and deception in an attempt to cover up or justify those practices. When laws don't exist or fail to hold Nestlé to account, it takes public action to force Nestlé to change. Public action can take on many forms, including boycotting Nestlé brands, helping to spread the word about Nestlé's unethical business practices, and putting pressure on the government to pass legislation that would prevent Nestlé from doing things that put people, animals and the environment at risk.
My past posts on Nestlé
I've always posted about corporate ethics, breastfeeding support, and the unethical marketing tactics of infant formula companies. However, I think the first time I wrote a post specifically about Nestlé was in September 2009. I had heard that a number of bloggers were going to a Nestlé Family event being hosted at Nestlé's USA headquarters in California. I asked a number of them on twitter what message they were going to take to Nestlé about its unethical marketing of infant formula and a few of them asked me what I would like them to ask or asked me to send them further information. So I wrote a post...
That post got a lot of attention. More than 50 trackbacks (many of which are mentioned in Best for Babes anthology of the firestorm), more than 200 comments, and more than 10,000 page views within a few days. It spurred a lot of conversation and debate on twitter, on my blog, and on other people's blogs. It resulted in a Nestlé executive offering to answer my questions by phone. I did have questions, but figured it would be more transparent to do it in writing. So I asked them 17 questions on issues like breastfeeding support, compliance with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, health claims on their packaging, free formula samples, audits of their marketing practices, the history of the boycott, chocolate and slave labour, sodium in processed foods and more...
The link for the follow-up questions provides links to the answers I received from Nestlé and my analysis of their answers, frequently pointing out doublespeak or missing information in their responses. Since then, I have continued to write a variety of posts on issues related to Nestlé and on my decision and the decision of others with regards to the Nestlé sponsorship of BlogHer '10. I will continue to point out business practices by Nestlé and other companies that undermine parents, put babies at risk, violate human rights and hurt the environment because staying silent or ignoring issues like this further enables horrible inhumane behaviour.
Want to boycott Nestle?
The Nestlé boycott has been going on for more than 30 years and Nestlé is still one of the three most boycotted companies in Britain. Although Nestlé officials would like to claim that the boycott has ended, it is still very much alive. But it needs to get bigger in order to have a greater impact. Nestlé owns a lot of brands and is the biggest food company in the world, so people wishing to boycott their brands need to do a bit of homework first to familiarize themselves with the brand names to avoid in the stores. For example, Butterfinger and Stouffer's are two brands being represented as sponsors at BlogHer '10 in August, and they are both owned by Nestlé.
Tweet your support! Blog your message! Share on facebook!
Are you on twitter? Let people know that you do not support Nestlé's unethical business practices. Tweet your message to Nestlé and to others using the hash tag #noNestle.
Or, if you have a blog, write your own post telling people about your concerns with Nestlé and let them know what you are doing about it. Feel free to quote the entire section above on Nestlé's unethical business practices and/or to link to this post or any of the other resources listed here for more information.
On facebook? Share this post or any of the resources I've listed above to inform your friends about Nestlé's unethical business practices.
Spread the word!