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Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

Fight the Nestle MonsterI 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:

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...

An open letter to the attendees of the Nestle Family blogger event

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...

Follow-up questions for Nestle

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!

#noNestleAre 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!

« Playgrounds of Berlin | Main | Wordless Wednesday: Why I Blog »

Reader Comments (99)

[...] That, in a nutshell, is what I worry about. I imagine our city’s recreation facilities, which are supposed to be promoting an active and healthy lifestyle, being used to push unhealthy products, like soft drinks and fast food, on the children and adults of our community. I think there is an inherent conflict between the City’s public health goals and the possibility of accepting a sponsor like Pepsi for its recreational facilities. I also worry, of course, that the city will not do its due diligence when considering the business practices of the company before accepting them as a sponsor (Nestle anyone?). [...]

[...] bars. Giving up Nestle for ethical reasons has helped a lot, but there are still lots of non-Nestle chocolate bars.  And let’s be [...]

[...] is a 30-year-long Nestle boycott that a lot of bloggers have joined in on in recent years. You can read about the boycott here. As I said in the last installment, I am a little leery of large food corporations, so that would [...]

this is poop

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfillis longwood

kids are annoying anyway

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfillis longwood

My daughter will be six months old in a couple of weeks, and my doctor told me to start her on a little bit of rice cereal then. What brands of baby nutrition products are good? Is Heinz ok?

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne Volgmann

I dont really understand why its so bad to give babies formula. My 3 kids are just fine with fomula. Everyone here seems to bash formula fed babies like something is wrong with them. For me it was so much better for me to formula feed. Made life simple instead of being tied down. I know everyone here is going to freak out, but I need my sleep, to work and get other things done around the house. My first one slept through the night at 3-4 months, the second 2 months old and the 3rd 2 weeks old. Made me a much happier mommy.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel


All of the companies that also sell formula (Heinz included) are involved in some degree of unethical marketing practices, but Nestle is the biggest and the worst.

Commercial rice cereal is highly processed and not really necessary. You can start your baby straight on fruits and vegetables. The info on starting solids on kellymom.com is quite good.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

It isn't "bad" to give babies formula, but it does have risks that breastfeeding does not.

What is "bad" is the way that formula companies often market their products. They should be able to sell them, but should not be trying to convince moms that they cannot possibly breasfeed successfully.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Wow! I feel like I've had my head in the sand. :( Could you get me on the fast track on obtaining information on food products like Nestle that should be avoided? This type of information is not my forte. Thank you for researching this and helping us help others!!!!

In Reply to original commenter...that makes me sick too! I don't understand how some people can sleep at night???

May 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarla

[...] a great explanation of why to boycott Nestle and a list of the many brand names made by [...]

Living currently in Mexico, Nestle's presence here is downright creepy. As a Mom with little other choice here, if I want to give my daughter Cheerios (our "health food" store is a joke), or some Gerber baby food (I make my own, but you can't always find enough fruit at any of the stores, so we do give her some jarred fruit), we have no choice! We don't have a Whole Foods down the road! Nestle is probably over half of the choice in brands. I hate them, but…we CAN'T boycott them!

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle

[...] time or if you need a reminder about why to consider boycotting Nestlé, check out my blog post on Nestlé’s unethical business practices. If you need ideas for Halloween treats that are not from Nestlé, check out these great [...]

[...] PhD in Parenting [...]

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHere’s why I boycott Nes

Wow, there is so much here I wasn't aware of. Thank you for posting.

I will never understand how companies producing products for children can be so cavalier about victimizing them. Shameful.

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Great website....about to undertake research for my degree looking at the nestle boycott and the effectiveness of the media in raising awareness of the scandal....just got my hands on The baby killers... from War on want.. back in the 1970s...should be useful...can you reccomend any journals-websites-books etc they would be useful....keep up the good work.Cheers. Sam uk.

November 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersam

this is crazy. i started boycotting nestle after working at chilis and we had to stop serving one of the dishes and throw out all the spice that went on it until -nestle- sent more. just a simple e-mail instructing to do so. no reason why. this was a week after i learned in my medical sociology class about them sending no-good formula to africa which killed lots of babies :( i stopped buying nestle after these events 2 years ago and just thought it was my own personal boycott. i had no idea until stumbling upon this it was a world-wide movement.

be the change you wana see in the world :)
oh and thanks to this author for being so damn persuasive and gutsy

December 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

[...] food replacement recipes. Due to the baby’s soy allergy/intolerance, our participation in the Nestle boycott,and the desire to eat more whole foods we’ve been making things from scratch.  There’s little [...]

December 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCubit's Organic Living &r

[...] Nestle Ice Cream: I love ice cream. I don’t buy Nestle ice cream, even if it has Mickey ears. Enough [...]

I live in Israel, and here they have a lot of Nestle products. Nestle also owns about half of Osem, the biggest food manufacturer in Israel. Luckily I found a supermarket that doesn't carry any Nestle or Osem products. I can't remember the name of the supermarket, but their logo is a shopping cart with "1/2" next to it; they're in Rishon LeZion and you can see it from the highway. I also found this handy link for whenever I shop somewhere else:

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKika

The problem is when Nestle gives formula to low-income mothers (example, WIC), and mothers in 3rd world countries. In WIC cases, they don't give enough to feed the baby for the whole month, many mothers water down the formula which is very dangerous.
In poor countries Nestle hands out samples for a couple of months, by the time the mother runs out of formula, her breastmilk had dried out and she has to continue feeding formula she cannot afford. Again, many water down the formula, and that's if they even have access to clean water to prepare it to begin with.
We're not bashing mothers who CHOOSE not to breastfeed, that's your personal choice. We're talking about a company who (knowing the dangers!) markets and gives formula to people who cannot afford it to get them "hooked". These people then make dangerous decisions in order to feed their babies; without the influence of Nestle, they could have possibly breastfed. And that's not much of a choice, is it?

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKika

nestle rules

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersteve

sorry nestle doesnt rule

February 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersteve

[...] everywhere immediately. They only cost a little bit more than Gerber, which I don’t want to buy (read why to avoid Gerber/Nestle – and a list of brands to [...]

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnneliese–18 months, 19

[...] it sparked an interesting debate. When I think about unethical behavior by U.S. companies, Nestlé and Wal Mart came to mind. Nestlé‘s accusations include dishonest [...]

I have five children and we have never used formula or baby-specific nutrition items. They all have *so much* sugar in them! Even the little teething biscuits have sugar. Three of my five have not started solids at all until their first birthdays; two have been so eager that they almost leaped onto the table to get at my plate so they are given chunks of bread, baby carrots to gnaw on, bits of apple (without the peel), crackers, things off of my own plate (no dairy items though, they are still nursing until their 2nd year - sometimes a bit longer - and so milk items don't come for them until later.) I've learned the hard way that getting sugar into them too early is a HUGE mistake. Delay sugary items as much as possible until at least their 2nd birthday because it helps them with their ability to walk away from sugars later on. Our 3yo daughter is a sugar hound. She got it early from her bigger siblings and now she CLIMBS to get it, sneaks candy, eats it whenever she can get it, even though she knows she'll get in trouble for it. It's awful and difficult to control. Our 12 yo, 10 yo, both did not get sweets often when younger and though they like a soda or something on occasion they can take it or leave it for the most part. Good luck with your dear one - don't be too quick to jump on the solids bandwagon, go slow and you'll get there all right. Few children "reject" solids in the end (I was threatened that this might happen if I didn't give our oldest hearty eater solids at 4 MONTHS) - he eats more than his Pop so I'd say we're doing okay and so will you. Go with your gut and what feels right to you.

March 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTillie

[...] by PHDINPARENTING http://www.phdinparenting.com [...]

Normally I don't learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoyal Crown Sheet Sets

[...] is one of the reasons to boycott Nestle. Protect infants in developing countries from misleading marketing strategies that over-promote [...]

[...] how am i supposed to tell people that nestle is a terrible company: http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/08/02/nestle/#.T7wzNr9RxJM , or that if you feel like making a difference in 2 minutes you should check out [...]

this just makes me hungry

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdafwv

My mom had us boycotting Nestle in the late 70s or 80s. I never really bought any of their products because what she told me about them pushing formula to poor women in 3rd world countries without access to safe water and the ability to sterilze bottles horrified me. I was 4 or 5 then, and I remember it to this day.

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTara Young

[...] you know that Proctor and Gamble still use animal testing and Nestle peddle formula in countries with no clean drinking water as well as using suppliers [...]

[...] or death for an infant? Most third world countries lack clean drinking water. When companies like Nestle come in offering formula as a comparable alternative to breastmilk, and a desperate, malnourished [...]

[...] publishers started make “active sales”. I can’t help thinking of certain other unethical business practices—supplying formula where there isn’t access to (free) clean water, giving samples of formula [...]

September 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMoney for nothing | Naturally

Great post but this is just the tip of the iceberg. If fact you could likely create an entire series of posts about how large corporations are so integrated that it's damn near impossible to not end up giving them your money via one channel or another.

You may also want to further this by boycotting Nestle's parent company: Nabisco

Nabisco Related Brands:
100 Calorie Packs
Chips Ahoy!
Kraft Handi-Snacks
Flavor Originals
Honey Maid
Nutter Butter
Ritz Bits Sandwiches
Toasted Chips
Barnum’s Animals Crackers
Nabisco Classics
Easy Cheese
Ginger Snaps
Kraft Cheese Nips
Nabisco 12 Packs
Nilla Wafers
Red Oval Farms
Stoned Wheat Thins
Teddy Grahams
Wheat Thins

... and why not the parent company of Nabisco - Kraft

Kraft Related Brands:
Capri Sun
Cheez Whiz
Cool Whip
Cracker Barrel
Maxwell House
Miracle Whip
Oscar Mayer
Stove Top

... and I suppose Kraft's parent company deserves some of this boycott as well. Mondelez International

Mondelez International Related Brands (Limited to those available in North America)
Full list here: http://www.mondelezinternational.com/Brands/index.aspx
Cadbury Dairy Milk
Cote d'Or
Green and Black's

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake

I suppose it only makes sense to include some information on who the majority shareholders of Mondelez International happen to be. That way, if you choose, you can extend your boycott to these Institutions and Funds.

Let's start with the Funds:
MFC Global E&P Monthly High Income
BMO Equity
TD Global Dividend
BMO Dividend
BlackRock US Equity Index B
Standard Life Canadian Div Growth F
BMO Asset Allocation
BlackRock CDN US Equity Idx Hdg Non-Tax
Mutual Global Discovery
RBC Global Dividend Growth GIF

... and now for the Institutions:
State Street Corp
Capital Research Global Investors
Vanguard Group, Inc.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc
Capital World Investors
Fidelity Management and Research Company
Franklin Mutual Advisers, LLC
Wellington Management Company, LLP
Northern Trust Investments, N.A.
Aberdeen Asset Management PLC

Doesn't it feel great to be an informed consumer?

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Here is the majority shareholder information for Kraft and Nestle as well - this would also be more meaningful if I were to supply background on these funds and institutions but I haven't time right now:

Nestle is owned by Nabisco
Nabisco is owned by Kraft
Kraft is owned by Mondelez International

Kraft Majority Shareholders:

Beutel Goodman Balanced Class D
Beutel Goodman American Equity Class D
Standard Life US Equity Value E
Beutel Goodman Global Dividend Class I
Standard Life Global Equity Value F
Beutel Goodman World Focus Equity Cl D

State Street Global Advisors Ltd.
BlackRock Fund Advisors
SSgA Funds Management Inc
Standard Life Assurance Co. of Canada
Chartwell Investment Partners
Guggenheim Investments
J.P. Morgan Asset Management (UK) Ltd.
Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc
Dreyfus Corp.
BNY Mellon Fund Advisers

Nestle Majority Shareholders:

MDPIM US Equity Pool
MFS MB International Equity-PF
FaithLife Global Equity 2
Scotia Private Global Equity Pool
FaithLife Balanced (McLean Budden)
Sentry US Growth and Income X
MD Equity
MD American Value
Compass Balanced Portfolio

Harris Associates L.P.
Gardner Russo & Gardner
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co
Capital Research and Management Company
Fisher Asset Management, LLC
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins CO
First Manhattan Company
Fiduciary Management, Inc. of Milwaukee
Eagle Capital Management LLC

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Correction: My info source for Nestle being owned by Nabisco was incorrect. For the sake of clarity feel free to delete my previous posts so as not to spread misinformation.

My apologies for any confusion,

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake

[...] PHD in Parenting, Why I Protest Nestle’s Unethical Business Practices [...]

[...] a few from the archives that seem to have made a revival for whatever reason this week (like the Nestle one for Nestle-free week and the calories and breastfeeding one for which I have no logical [...]

You are absolutely right. I spent a few years working for Nestle R&D in Switzerland, and I realized how misleading and often fraudulent, Nestle research was. I am moving to another job, but during my short career at Nestle I encountered many examples of unethical and fraudulent practices in Nestle's business strategies and it's scientific "research". If only the consumer knew!

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeroen

Nestle uses young teens to promote their chocolate in Canada. Shortly after Halloween, I received free Nestle chocolate from 2 young teens. I don't think it's safe.
I've emailed them about it. They responded, but it was automated and had no relative information. This happened at a house that is a short distance from offices from one of Nestle's divisions (Purina).

November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShane

No one cares

May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Hi. And thanks for spreading awareness!
I want to make you aware of an incredible app that makes boycotting of any company you don't want to support easy. It's called "Buycott" (http://www.buycott.com). You install the app on your smartphone, join the causes you want and scan the products in the shop. If there is a conflicting moral issue the app will tell you so!
Parenting is time and resource consuming and buying ethically can become a too complex affair, but this really helps! Please spread! Thanks again for spreading awareness about rotten companies. :-)

June 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan Roos

I second the Buycott recommendation. In fact, I came back to this post to recommend it, so I am amused that Jan Roos beat me to it! I knew I couldn't be the only one thinking about it.

September 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I live in Pakistan and Nestlé is nothing but a bully here. They use so many underhanded business practices here. They pump all their products with so much sugar it is sickening. Any time another company tries to come up with healthier alternatives to the Nestlé products they do their best to force them out of business. They threaten shop keepers if they try to carry any of their competitors products. The sources of some of their products is questionable. I hate how they have destroyed the local and natural foods found here and created a generation of people addicted to refined carbs and sugar.

April 29, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

ugh, no more Pellegrino. i guess I'll have to rely on soda stream.

May 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermichael j lambie

yup lads

November 21, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteredvgrw

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