up and drink bottled water
Nestlé is the
worlds largest manufacturer of bottled water, with over
50 brands and 16% of a fast growing $33.7 billion market. Nestlé
faces criticism about its damage to the environment and local
eco-systems in many countries.
promotion of bottled water can undermine commitment to
the provision of affordable piped water. Irresponsible
promotion and labelling and brand names such as Pure
Life' can falsely imply sterility, undermining breastfeeding
and safety messages about boiling water for babies.
AGM, its French Perrier workers also complained about job losses
and the dramatic fall in English sales of Perrier, made
worse by the use of plastic bottles (supplied by Coca-Cola).
Nestlé responded with promises to sell 3-5 million bottles
of Perrier in China! Using its new Sustainability
Review, Nestlé tried to divert attention away to the
large amount of water used by agriculture, referring to its plan
(devised with Danone) to reduce water usage (in plants)
through genetic engineering.
Pillaging in Brazil
In the Swiss paper,
Le Courrier (16 June 2002) Franklin Frederik of the Brazilian
Movement of Water Citizenship accuses Nestlé of pillaging
the circuito das Aguas, (a Brazilian geological
marvel) and destroying an ecosystem which took nature
thousands of years to create.
Ignoring Indian tribes
A federal judge dismissed
a lawsuit filed by three American Indian tribes to stop Nestlés
Ice Mountain Spring bottled water company from withdrawing
spring water from the Great Lakes. Under a 1986 Act authority
to protect the Great Lakes lies with state governments, not private
individuals. A second lawsuit (against Nestlé) by Michigan
Citizens for Water Conservation seeks legislation to give the
state more control over its water resources. (AP, May 31)
Also see the briefing
paper, Bottled Water and Infant
Tap Water Awards 2002
alternative to the Perrier Comedy Awards will take place
at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Contact Suzy
Merrell (tel: 0131 556 5204) http://www.outoftheblue.org.uk/
or Baby Milk Action.
Chief on the defensive at AGM
effective is the boycott? If Nestlés efforts to
counter it are any measure, then it is very effective. Update
readers will be aware that Nestlé often uses its sponsorship
of humanitarian causes in its PR. This year it added
several new publications and initiatives to its portfolio prior
to its shareholder meeting in April.
non-Swiss nationals were allowed to own shares, much of the
time devoted to questions from the floor has been about baby
food marketing. In 2001, in answer to a question from Baby Milk
Action, Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck, had promised support
for the promotion and protection of exclusive breastfeeding
for 6 months. A similar claim was made in Nestlés
Code Action Report in September 2001.
far away from Swiss eyes, promotion was stepped up in India
for Cerelac and Neslac for use from 4 months of
age with weekly advertisements in magazines and newspapers.
A few months later, another booklet was launched, Infant
Feeding in the Developing World, featuring Beverley Mirando,
of Nestlé (UK) Corporate Affairs Department, speaking
of her experience in Sri Lanka (see below).
prior to the 2002 shareholder meeting, Mr. Brabeck, announced
that Nestlé would be introducing an ombudsman system
so that staff could denounce violations. This was referred to
in yet another skillfully and presented brochure, Nestlés
Sustainability Review, launched at the AGM.
the UK media (the Guardian, Private Eye) had started
to expose the financial links between Lord Ahmed and Nestlé
and the case of the whistleblower from Pakistan, Syed Aamar
Raza (see below). At the AGM Peter Brabeck
failed to answer questions about what the ombudsman system would
mean for Aamar. He admitted that Lord Ahmed would become a consultant
for Nestlé UK and said he could not see how a Member
of the House of Lords could be corrupted.
attempted to divert questions about the environmental impact
of Nestlés bottled water business, by presenting
it as a percentage of the total amount of water used globally
(see above). One shareholder insisted that
Nestlé be more transparent about the exact number of
litres used and the salaries of its management.
more Nestlé made a promise to respect WHOs recommendation
on exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months.
Buy a share - make
your voice heard
Although no company
has ever taken action as a result of a majority shareholder vote
on a human rights or environmental resolution, by buying a share
in a company you can make your voice heard. Last year the Nestlé
share price was reduced by a factor of 10, so the current market
value of one share is now ONLY £166. Nestlé
boasts that its shareholders have additional rights over shareholders
of companies registered in many other countries, but fails to
mention that you currently need £166 million worth
of shares before you can place an item on the Nestlé agenda,
but you can speak from the floor with one share.
Further reading: CornerHouse:
Financial Market Lobbying: a new Political Space for activists.
Friends of the Earth: Guide to Shareholder Activism http://www.foe.org/
truth comes out at the Nestlé debates
Over the last 15 months,
Baby Milk Action has taken part in 13 public debates or meetings
on the baby food issue where Nestlés UK Corporate
Affairs team have been present. This follows Nestlés
decision to engage with its critics. Previously it
refused to debate or meet in public with Baby Milk Action. Most
of the debates have been at student unions and the results have
been overwhelmingly in favour of the boycott.
At Edinburgh University
in May, Nestlés credibility was shattered when a
group of South African visitors joined the audience and watched
Nestlés Senior Policy Advisor, Beverley Mirando and
its Head of Corporate Affairs, Hilary Parsons, claim again and
again that the Code is strictly followed in all developing countries.
The group asked who was responsible for monitoring in South Africa,
because they had repeatedly seen Nestlé baby milk advertised
on TV and Nestlé baby milk labels in English only. Beverley
Mirando tried to explain that there was no monitoring committee
in South Africa and only a voluntary agreement with industry.
She then said that she had been informed that the
labels were in four languages which were perhaps under
the lid? This was greeted with incredulous laughter
from the students.
Eventually she conceded
that, this should not be happening and asked
for more information. Yet again, a vote taken showed that all
but a very few supported the boycott. At the University of Warwick
debate in March the motion to end the boycott was withdrawn by
its proposer after Nestlé had put its case, so unconvincing
are the company's arguments.
Is artificial feeding
Ms. Mirando suggests
that those who criticise Nestlés baby food marketing
activities do not understand the reality of living and working
in a developing country. In every presentation she quickly moves
the discussion away from marketing practices to the issue of working
women, falsely implying that the International
Code prevents formula being sold. She suggests that as women
join the workforce they have to use infant formula and it is unfair
to deny mothers access to it. She cites her own experience where,
even with the benefit of a chauffeur driven car, she was unable
to continue breastfeeding when she returned to work.
often face impossible choices when they return to work, this
does not excuse irresponsible marketing. Employers have a
responsibility under International
Labour Organisation Conventions to provide creche facilities
and permit working mothers to have breastfeeding breaks. Nestlé
could ensure that all its workplaces conform to this standard,
rather than, as it does in the Philippines, providing free
infant formula to its employees.
rates in Scandinavia are over 90%. Nestlé undermines
such breastfeeding cultures by suggesting that artificial
feeding is the inevitable consequence of development.
- In her presentations
highlights the frequent power cuts in Colombo, but fails to
mention the impact this might have on formula preparation.
Nestlé in Sri
Ms Mirando insists
that concerns about Nestlé are simply not an issue in Sri
Lanka. This is blatantly untrue. There is a national campaign
against Nestlé involving over 350 Sri Lankan NGOs and demonstrations
with hundreds of mothers. They complain about Nestlés
attack on the breastfeeding culture and its virtual destruction
of the national milk industry. See the Your
Question's Answered section.
Time to accept responsibility
new strategy is to admit to some malpractice, but to claim that
apart from a few individual errors (blamed on staff) problems
lie in the distant past. On occasion it says its policies were
revised in 1996. This raises some questions:
If it admits wrong
doing in the past, will it offer compensation for the babies
that have died or suffered as a result?
Why have the policy
changes been so small and why are they still not in line with
the WHA Resolutions?
is serious about putting infant health first, why wont
it accept our Four Point Plan
and, as a first step, admit in writing that its marketing
policy and practice should meet World Health Assembly requirements
in all countries?
could not be trusted before, why should we trust it now? The
Nestlé Boycott was suspended in 1984 after promises
by Nestlé to abide by the Code. It was resumed in 1989
when monitoring showed they meant nothing. New promises must
be monitored for 18 months before any action is taken to end
the current boycott. We are still waiting for the first step.
will Nestlés ombudsman do...
received praise in some quarters for launching an ombudsman
system so that staff members can complain about violations of
the International Code and Resolutions. However, while this may
be a genuine attempt to improve marketing practices, Baby Milk
Action questions whether the ombudsman system will
have any impact when we consider the facts about Nestlé's
past behavior. See the April/June
Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet for further details.
...about these violations?
markets breastmilk substitutes in nearly every country
in the world. Hundreds of published violations of the
Code from just 14 countries (condensed into a table
format because of the sheer volume) were brought to
Nestlé's attention last year through the report
the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2001. Nestlé
dismissed the vast majority of the violations as invalid.
show you just a few of the violations that have come
to light since the report.
much for auditors
in Nestlés new Sustainability Review (in
the section Infant formula marketing audit in Argentina)
shows its internal auditors apparently turning a blind eye to
the Nido whole milk on display in the baby food and milk
section (Alimento Bebe). Nestlé knows that its
Nan infant formula is expensive and that mothers often
use whole milk instead. Allowing this to happen, as it does
in many countries, risks infant health. See the Your
Question Answered section for a Gallery of Shame showing
promotion of whole milk for infant feeding.
dumps free supplies in Bangkok
May 2002, just by chance, UNICEF staff visited a major hospital
in Bangkok and found boxes and boxes of donated Nestlés
Bear Brand Prebio 2 follow-on formula, each carton with a sticker
in Thai saying "for scientific evaluation only." None
of the staff seemed to be sure why the samples were donated,
but the excuse was given that they might be for mothers infected
allows health professionals to receive a sample for
evaluation, but it appears, from the quantities donated,
that Nestlé intended them to be passed on to
mothers, as they were in this hospital.
mothers infected with HIV in Thailand are provided with free
formula which is purchased through the Ministry of Public Health
in a bidding process and made available to all hospitals. There
is therefore no need for hospitals to accept free supplies from
In 1997 when the General Synod of the Church of England was
debating whether to resume its support for the Nestlé
boycott, it discussed the IGBM report, Cracking the Code,
which found that 26% of the mothers interviewed in Thailand
received free samples (mostly from Nestlé and Mead
Johnson). Nestlé claimed this was because of HIV infection.
UNICEF confirmed that this was not true and that in any case,
the HIV infection rate in Thailand then (and now) is less
Mark keeps his
several programmes about Nestlé, satirist Mark Thomas,
on location last summer in the Kurdish region of Batman,
South-East Turkey, found this tin of Nestlé infant
formula on sale.
The Kurdish women
in the region cannot read Turkish and often cant speak
it. Turkish Law only requires Turkish, but companies should,
under the International Code, use an appropriate
language (Article 9.2)
independently of government action. (Article
Ahmed - Nestlé consultant
Most people who have
the privilege to meet Nestlé whistleblower Syed Aamar Raza
are utterly convinced by his evidence and are aware of his courage
in defending infant health. One person who clearly was not, is
the Labour Peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham.
Baby Milk Action and
Aamar had tea with Lord Ahmed in the House of Lords in February
2000 and asked for his help in publicising Aamars evidence
of Nestlé malpractice. We were very pleased when Lord Ahmed
immediately offered to conduct a public meeting in London, to
be organised by the Daily Jang newspaper. Soon after, however,the
News on Sunday (March 12 2000) reported that Lord Ahmed
had been approached by a very well-known Pakistani millionaire
business-man, asking him to please not pursue
the matter. The public meeting never took place and we heard
nothing more from Lord Ahmed until November 2000 when he attempted
to intervene in support of Nestlé at the European Parliament
Public Hearing, which Nestlé itself refused to attend (see
Boycott News 29).
questions about Aamars allegations were raised, Nestlé
quoted Lord Ahmeds claim that they were unfounded. With
no concrete proof, it was difficult to know how to respond. Then,
at last, on 19th March, 2002, the Guardian, followed by
Private Eye, broke the story about the financial links
between Lord Ahmed and Nestlé.
Interviewed on the
BBC Asian Network, Lord Ahmed denied being an apologist for Nestlé,
but defended the company at length, claiming that he had conducted
his own investigation in Pakistan and that none of the 140 million
Pakistanis had any complaints about Nestlé, only people
in Canada and Cambridge. He failed to inform listeners that his
'fact-finding' trip to Pakistan had been organised and financed
by Nestlé. But he did indicate that he would be becoming
a paid advisor to Nestlé.
In the interview Lord Ahmed referred to a tape which he claimed
substantiates Nestlés allegation that Aamar was a
blackmailer. Aamar and Baby Milk Action have been asking for substantiation
of this allegation and a copy of the tape for over two years,
but so far we have had no response from Nestlé. Nestlé
admitted to the German media that it obtained the tape using illegal
means. (Click here
to listen to Lord Ahmed's head-to-head with Baby Milk Action's
In a letter to Lord
Ahmed in June 2002, Aamar, wrote:
you have revealed that you have had access to this tape. I appeal
to you to obtain a copy of the tape from your new employers,
Nestlé, so I can defend myself. You sit in the House
of Lords influencing legislation for the people of the UK. Do
you not think I too deserve justice? Do you not think I deserve
the right to defend myself? Please send me a copy of the tape
so I can hold a press conference and explain to the world what
Nestlé has done to me.
"I can answer
this allegation against me if I am allowed to do so. If your
preference is to keep the tape hidden away while you continue
to call me a blackmailer you cannot blame me for concluding
that you are biased in favour of Nestlé and do not have
the best interests of Pakistani children at heart.
As part of his attack on Aamar on the BBC Asian Network, Lord
Ahmed has suggested that Aamar left Pakistan in order to live
in the UK. Aamar says in his reply:
to assume that my purpose from the beginning was always to leave
Pakistan. I must ask you to stop making such a claim which bears
absolutely no relation to the facts. I have not seen my wife
or two young children for over two years and my present living
conditions are very difficult as I try to support myself and
my family in Pakistan through hard work. It is a great insult
that you suggest this is my choice. If I could safely return
to Pakistan I would do so immediately.
In answer to questions
about Lord Ahmed at the AGM Peter Brabeck said:
Quite frankly...I really dont believe that one can
corrupt a member of the House of Lords simply by asking him to
carry out an independent report... Today we are negotiating with
Lord Ahmed, in a totally open way, which is why you have been
able to make this reference to Lord Ahmed.
can help Aamar in his campaign to respond to the allegation
of blackmail by asking Lord Ahmed to obtain a copy of the
tape from Nestlé as Aamar is requesting. Write to
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, House of Lords, London, SW1 APW.
Read a summary
of Milking Profits
and order it from our online Virtual
council has become the latest to stop serving Nescafé in
its offices from now on they will be serving Fair Trade
tea and coffee. Mayor John Marjoram explained to the local paper
Stroud News and Journal that the town is hoping to become
an official Fair Trade Town, which will hopefully raise awareness
about Fair Trade products.
local authorities claim that they cannot support the boycott
because of competition guidelines. Why not try this approach
to ridding your council of Nestlé products? See http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/towns/index.htm
for more information.
part of a Year 13 Environmental Science Class on global production
systems and problems with the developing world, we were given
a talk on the baby milk issue" writes Daniel, a student
at Ripley St Thomas Church of England High School (photo).
"Following the talk we decided to take action, we
informed the rest of the sixth form, by putting up posters
and handing out leaflets. This raised lots of comments about
Nestlé, so our next step was to hand out petitions,
which received over 50 signatures in support. Through our
success in the sixth form we have investigated changing our
vending machines. We will find out shortly our results of
- The school has agreed
to have another vending machine installed stocked with alternative
brands so that the students can boycott the Nestlé vending
to the test
School students in
Oxfordshire tested Nestlés Senior Policy Advisor
Beverley Mirando in February. The group at Lord Williams
school in Thame went through every single Nestlé violation
in the IBFAN report Breaking
the Rules 2001 asking her to account for each one! The meeting
was set up to try to rid the school of Nestlé vending machines,
and representatives from the Vending machine company, Sodexho,
were present at the meeting. The group are still waiting to hear
One of the students,
Mark Ansell, said: "We didnt expect to get all the
hype we received. Weve managed to publicise the issue throughout
the school and we even had an article in the local paper."
St Andrews Uni
keeps the boycott
Good news from St Andrews
student union in a recent referendum two-thirds (64%) of
the students voted to keep the boycott in place.
Student Marco Biagi
was one of those campaigning for the boycott. He told us:
day we were feeling overwhelmed by the sheer weight of pro-Nestlé
propaganda spread around town, which was arguing about the validity
of the WHO Code. But by the end we had reduced them to having
to use Hands off my Kit Kat as an argument.
Richard Howitt launches
weekend of action against Nestlé
The EUs Rapporteur
on Corporate Responsibility, Richard Howitt MEP, handed out leaflets
in Cambridge on17 May to launch a weekend of action.
actions are cynical in the extreme. There is clear evidence
that they are contributing directly to the ill health and death
of children in the developing world, yet they continue to put
profits first. They claim to have introduced new policies recently
but they still flout World Health Authority codes and children
continue to suffer."
came together to demonstrate outside Nestlés UK Headquarters
in Croydon on Saturday 18th May. The day marks the anniversary
of the implementation of the International
Code and coincides with National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.
The boycotters leafleted passers by and used placards and banners
to raise awareness. 5,800 petitions were handed in to a Nestlé
UNISON women reaffirm
their support for the boycott
Louise Couling of the
Greater London Regional Women's Committee made a powerful speech,
mentioning Nestlé whistleblower Syed Aamar Raza, at the
National Women's Conference in Cardiff in February, in support
of their boycott resolution, which was passed. UNISON has been
a longtime supporter of the boycott. It has 1.2 million members,
918,000 of whom are women working in health, local government,
education, transport and the voluntary sector. We look forward
to working closely with UNISON to end irresponsible marketing
The Nestlé boycott
has been launched by national groups in 20 countries. The Italian
group had a notable success in having Nestlé dropped as
a supplier to the Fano Carnival. Fano is a small town on the Adriatic
coast and has been designated by the UN as a "child friendly
the Carnival contest, huge amounts of chocolates are thrown to
the public from floats. For many years the Carnival Board has
purchased from Perugina, an Italian company fully owned
by Nestlé since 1988.
The campaign has been
conducted for four years by the Group for an Ethical Carnival,
with articles in local newspapers, distribution of more than 12,000
leaflets and booklets, public meetings, non-violent occupations
of the Town Council and individual letters to authorities and
politicians. Members of the Town Council and of the Provincial
Council voted in favour of several amendments to the local legislation.
Eventually, on 24 December
2001, the Chairman of the Board of Managers announced that it
would no longer collaborate with Nestlé and that from the
2002 Carnival the chocolates would be acquired through fair trade
to arrange a meeting, but backed away when told this would be
in public with company critics present.
supports Science Prizes for Women at UNESCO
part owned by Nestlé, is the sponsor of the LOreal-UNESCO
"laureates" for established women scientists and also
for the "Science prizes for Young Women Scientists."
lavish award ceremony took place at UNESCOs Head Quarters
in Paris on 6th March. The VIP-invitation-only event was complete
with red carpet entrance, marquee and extensive TV coverage and
had a heavy advertising emphasis on LOreal. Whilst the promotion
of women in science should be strongly supported, the event appears
to be more about the promotion of LOreal and cosmetics than
women in science and has been criticised by UNESCO insiders. One
of the fact that other UN organisations express concern at the
use of breastmilk substitutes in favour of mothers milk on grounds
of nutrition, hygiene and cost, it is surprising that UNESCO,
a UN agency with a focus on poverty in the developing countries,
allows its good name to be used in this cynical manner by the
manufacturer of high-value cosmetics."
General of UNESCO, Mr Koichiro Matsuura awarded the prizes and
praised the partnership, expressing a desire to see more partnerships
between UNESCO and the private sector, which he said were "rare
and too timid."
to UNESCO and tell them that you believe this partnership
to be inappropriate. Email: email@example.com
at the Women in Science and Technology Department.
Business Principles in doubt
refugee in Australia asserts that she and 130 other prisoners
in Beijings Xinan labour camp were forced to manufacture
more than 100,000 toy rabbits bearing the Nestlé brand.
The woman, who spent a year in the camp for practising the banned
Falun Gong meditation technique, claims that the prisoners were
also regularly beaten, given electric shocks and deprived of sleep.
Nestlé confirmed that the company placed an order with
Beijing MiQi Toys Co Ltd, for 110,000 rabbits for a Nesquik promotion,
but said there is no evidence linking forced labour with Nestlé's
business dealings in China. Nestlé Switzerland said: "In
line with the Nestlé Corporate Business Principles, Nestlé
does not buy products or materials from companies or institutions
that use forced labour or involuntary prison labour."
has identified the Nestlé bunnies she made and is calling
for independent investigations into company operations in China.
and EasyJet in the Baby Milk Action Hall of Shame
has long been infamous for its marketing violations of its breastmilk
substitutes, but now it seems that the company has entered into
the Hall of Fame The EasyJet Hall of Fame. On its website
EasyJet asks people to name and shame those companies that insist
on spending company money on expensive air flights and puts those
that save money by using EasyJet into the Hall of Fame. We think
that the Hall of Infamy would be more appropriate! EasyJet serves
only Nescafé coffee on its flights, which means it definitely
goes into the Baby Milk Action Hall of Shame.
If you travel
by EasyJet write in advance and request another brand of
coffee. When travelling by air always ask what brand the
coffee is. Write to the customer relations manager and ask
for a choice of brands to be made available. You can use
on-line comment form.
Baby Milk Action at
the House of Commons
Baby Milk Action
made a presentation to the Womens Group of the Parliamentary
Labour Party opposite Nestlé at the House of Commons
on 1st May 2002.
meeting Julia Drown, MP has corresponded with Nestlé
about the way it has attempted to undermine legislation
in India and Zimbabwe.
Photo: Baby Milk
Action - Patti Rundall (staff), Fiona Duby and Rachel OLeary
(Directors), Gay Palmer (Advisor) and Andrea Hill (staff)
with two new friends.
a list of Nestlé brands. As Nestlé frequently buys
and sells companies it is difficult to track what products contribute
to company profits. This is particularly problematic as Nestlé
often retains a connection with a brand it appears to have sold.
For example, this may involve Nestlé receiving a licensing
fee for use of the brand name or Nestlé may continue to
manufacture the products which are then marketed by another company.
We list any brand from which Nestlé makes a profit.
Nestlé claims the boycott has little impact on its sales,
we notice that new owners are keen to have the brands removed
from the boycott list.
some recent changes and confirmations following our investigations:
Passion not connected with Nestlé
Passion, the Fair Trade marked fruit juice is produced by
the same company that makes Libbys juice drinks.
The Libbys brand name is owned by Nestlé and
the company profits from the sale of products bearing this brand
name. But as there is no connection between Fruit Passion
and Nestlé it is not on the boycott list.
news on Tartex
(sold by Nestlé some years ago) have asked us to publicise
the fact that from August 2002 its range of vegetable patés
in tubes will not be manufactured by Nestlé and that Nestlé
will not profit from any Tartex sales. All Tartex products will
be removed from the boycott list.
products sold - but watch this space
has sold off its ambient temperature products such
as Branston Pickle, Cross & Blackwell, Sun-Pat and
Sarsons vinegar. Nestlé UK gives no date for completion
and its phone number will appear for some time on labels (indicating
a continuing financial interest) so these products still appear
on the boycott list until we have confirmation of the nature of
Foods now produces and markets the Lyons Maid ice cream,
but Nestlé continues to own the brand name Lyons Maid
and presumably profits from this and so it remains on the list.
baby nephew in Omdurman shrivelled like a balloon and died of
chronic diarrhoea. His impoverished parents had spent a fortune
on him - first on baby milk formula and bottles, then on a shopping
bag full of antibiotics - when breastfeeding and oral rehydration
salts would have been cheaper, safer and more effective. Nestlé
bear heavy responsibility for making baby milk formula a prestige
symbol, especially in countries where conditions are thoroughly
inappropriate. Years of propaganda have inculcated a belief that
it is better than breastmilk, not only among the affluent but
also among those whose meagre income would be better spent on
feeding the mother. They will continue to profit from the ignorance
theyve encouraged, until this misperception is actively
Verney, Editor, Sudan Update
(This letter was written to the Guardian on 2nd April but was