Nestle Boycott continues
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 97 12:42:56 -0700
Subject: Nestle Boycott continues
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INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT AGAINST NESTLE CONTINUES
By Mary Assunta
Third World Network Features
The international boycott against Nestle is very much alive since its
launch two decades ago. This boycott is still on because Nestle continues
to employ unethical marketing tactics in many countries.
Nestle is one of the world's largest food manufacturers, with a
turnover of US$42 billion. It controls approximately 40% of the worldwide
market for baby food. It influences UN systems, food legislation, market
trends and company behaviour more than any other food company.
Nestle's persistence in violating the World Health Organisation
(WHO)'s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes was
once again revealed in a four-country research commissioned by the
Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring (IGBM). Entitled 'Cracking
the Code', the report reveals the massive scale of company marketing
Initially Nestle dismissed the IGBM report, even before reading it,
and announced on BBC World Service that it would not 'accept reproaches
from self-appointed groups'. However in the face of the scandalous
findings a week later Nestle changed its tune to, 'We take this report
According to the latest Update of Baby Milk Action's Boycott News,
the international boycott is having an important impact on Nestle, not
only in direct economic terms but also in wielding damage to its corporate
image, management morale and management time the company must spend
The Update reports that in recent years many companies have reversed
policies as a result of public pressure, to the benefit of people, the
environment and their own image. Nestle however has only curbed some of
its more blatant malpractices.
The Update states that Nestle's latest efforts in countering the
boycott is to advertise itself as a squeaky clean beneficial force by
distorting facts. An advertisement which appeared in the Oxford
Independent claims that even before the introduction of the WHO Code, '...
Nestle marketed infant formula ethically and responsibly and has done so
The Update however cites some examples of Nestle's promotions in
India where there are laws to prevent companies from advertising infant
formula. Nestle has come around this by aggressively promoting other
expensive processed baby food products with idealised pictures of babies
on the tins and in a language locals don't understand. Such promotions
continue to undermine breastfeeding.
Nestle is the sole advertiser of baby foods in the Indian edition of
Parenting magazine and its Cerelac advertisements are found in pharmacies.
It even offers cash incentives for local salespersons to display products.
A pharmacist in Jaipur said that only Nestle representatives are offering
payment in return for a prominent display of baby foods. He receives 200
rupees each month.
The Update also points out that the advertisement in the Oxford
Independent makes no mention of criminal charges against Nestle in India
or the company's challenge to the Indian law, or its attempts to undermine
strong baby food legislation in the Philippines, Ghana, Pakistan, Uganda
The advertisement mentions Nestle's new Charter on its infant formula
policy in developing countries. However despite its attempts to whitewash
its real practices with a feeble Charter the truth is Nestle continues to
undermine legislation in many countries, promote its products through
health facilities, give gifts to health workers and has never disciplined
its staff for violating the International Code.
While Nestle's biggest complaint has been over-regulation and has
been actively undermining attempts to bring about strong baby food
legislation in many countries, ironically it is calling for legislations
of a different kind to be strictly enforced.
Nestle wants its corporate brand - the nest - to be protected and
entrenched in the law and strictly enforced by the authorities. The Update
reports that Nestle's Vice President, Peter Brabeck, made this call for
better brand protection and speedy trade deregulation when addressing
government representatives of developing countries at the October 1996
Global Investment Forum organised by the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He said, '... Our corporate brand - the nest - is the seal, it takes
our products out of anonymity which one might find with other products...
The consumers' trust helps us to introduce completely new concepts....'
For decades Nestle has used 'the nest' to get mothers to 'trust' in
their products which have caused suffering to infants all over the world.
This is indeed a scandalous betrayal of trust, especially of the poor from
In the face of Nestle's continuous irresponsible marketing practices,
the international boycott against the company is still on in 17 countries.
This boycott will continue till Nestle stops its irresponsible behaviour.
- Third World Network Features
About the writer: Mary Assunta is a media officer with the Consumers'
Association of Penang in Malaysia. This article is based on information
from Boycott News, supplement to Baby Milk Action, Update 20,
When reproducing this feature, please credit Third World Network Features
and (if applicable) the cooperating magazine or agency involved in the
article, and give the byline. Please send us cuttings.
For more information, please contact:
Third World Network
228, Macalister Road, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Tel: (+604)2293511,2293612 & 2293713;
Fax: (+604)2298106 & 2264505
© 1997 Peter Langston