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Baby Milk Action statement on Libby's juices in the UK and Ireland.

Press Release: 14th May 1999

Baby Milk Action has been asked to clarify its position with regard to Libby's brands and the Nestlé boycott.

Libby's remains a Nestlé brand and will appear, as appropriate, on lists of Nestlé products produced by Baby Milk Action for supporters of the Nestlé boycott.

In the UK and Republic of Ireland a separate company, Gerber Foods Soft Drinks, is now responsible for the production, sales and marketing of Libby's juice and juice drinks. Baby Milk Action notes that Gerber Foods Soft Drinks has signed a long-term licensing agreement with Nestlé for use of the Libby's name and so Nestlé continues to profit from the Libby's name. After consulting with the International Nestlé Boycott Committee, Baby Milk Action concludes it is correct to list any products from which Nestlé profits, including those where the profits come through ownership of a brand name.

As a matter of policy, Baby Milk Action does not recommend alternatives to Nestlé products because a) our motives for calling for the boycott could be questioned, and b) doing so may inadvertently undermine other public interest campaigns. Therefore, on principle, Baby Milk Action is not calling for Gerber Foods Soft Drinks to re-brand the products. In addition, Baby Milk Action campaigns against the irresponsible marketing of Gerber baby foods and to suggest the Gerber name is used for the juices would undermine this work. Baby Milk Action notes, however, that Gerber Foods Holdings has stated: "there is no connection whatsover between ourselves and any baby food products manufactured by Gerber Products Company Inc."

Further information

Baby Milk Action Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Baby Milk Action, 23 St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AX. Tel: (01223) 464420 Fax: (01223) 464417

Gerber Foods Soft Drinks Ltd. Rob Spencer, Director of Marketing, Gerber Foods Soft Drinks Ltd., 393 Bristol Road, Bridgewater, Somerset, TA6 4AT. Tel: (01278) 441600 Fax: (01278) 441777

Wholefood trade. A number of wholefood wholesalers and distributors have been approached to stock Libby's organic juices. Jon Walker of Out of this World is coordinating a response. Jon Walker, Out of this World, 106 High Street, Gisforth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE3 1HB. Tel: (0191) 2135377 Fax: (0191) 2135378

Background information

  1. Nestlé has owned Libby's fruit juices since 1971. (Ref: Nestlé web-site).

  2. Gerber Foods Soft Drinks Ltd. concluded a long-term licensing agreement with Nestlé in April 1998 and now has control of the Libby's juice and juice drink range in the UK and Republic of Ireland. (Ref: Gerber Foods Soft Drinks Ltd. statement 1st April 1999).

  3. The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child (source: UNICEF). A marketing code was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 setting out marketing requirements for breastmilk substitutes. Subsequent Resolutions have clarified and amplified the marketing code.

  4. Nestlé is the target of a consumer boycott in 18 countries because of its continued violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly. Nestlé controls approximately 40% of the baby milk market and is found to be responsible for more violations of the marketing code than any other single company. Nestlé also appears to take the lead in undermining implementation of the marketing code in government measures (see the Campaign for Ethical Marketing and Update newsletters for further details).

  5. In the UK, the boycott targets Nescafé coffee, Nestlé's flagship product. Baby Milk Action produces a list of other products for members of the public who wish to avoid all brands from which Nestlé profits.

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