Body Shop to be added to Nestlé boycott list if L'Oreal takeover goes ahead
17 March 2006.
It is being reported that the Body Shop retail chain has accepted a takeover offer from cosmetics giant L'Oreal (see The Guardian 17 March 2006). Nestlé, the UK's most boycotted company over its aggressive marketing of baby foods, holds 26.4% of L'Oreal. If the takeover goes ahead boycott coordinator, Baby Milk Action will have to add the Body Shop to the list of brands from which Nestlé profits.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said:
"Many Nestlé boycott supporters will abandon Body Shop if the takeover goes ahead and buying its products puts money into Nestlé's pockets. In a global internet vote last year Nestlé was proclaimed the world's 'least responsible company'. How could the Body Shop, with its stated ethical values, have fallen into its hands? We are asking supporters to send messages to Anita Roddick calling on her to reconsider. The Body Shop has voiced its support for boycotts and the impact the individual can make and shareholders can send a strong message by refusing to link up with Nestlé."
Boycott supporters can contact Anita Roddick by sending an email to email@example.com or on Dame Anita's website www.anitaroddick.com. Views can be shared on the International Nestle Boycott discussion group - see the boycott section.
In the past Body Shop has shown great interest in the boycott campaign and has distributed Baby Milk Action information to its employees. On its website the Body Shop states:
"The Body Shop believes that, as part of a global community, it is the responsibility of every individual to actively support those who have such human rights denied them. Whether it's signing a petition, using our purchase power to boycott a company, or lobbying governments, we all have the power to effect change. If enough individuals demand change - big business and governments will have to listen."
Monitoring conducted by Baby Milk Action and its partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds Nestlé to be responsible for more violations of baby food marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly than any other company (see the codewatch section). These measures have status in international law through the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Those who make claims about infant formula that intentionally undermine women’s confidence in breastfeeding are not to be regarded as clever entrepreneurs just doing their job, but as human rights violators of the worst sort”
then Deputy Executive Director,
UNICEF, April 1999.
Ethical Consumer magazine which rates companies on ethical performance has indicated Body Shop's rating will tumble through the link with Nestlé and L'Oreal (click here for Ethical Consumer's press release). Ruth Rosselson from Ethical Consumer magazine said:
"It's ironic that a company well-known for its anti-animal testing stance should sell-out to one that tests on animals and which has yet to shown its commitment to any ethical issues at all. I for one will certainly not be shopping there again and I urge other consumers concerned about ethical issues to follow my example. There are plenty of other higher scoring ethical companies out there."
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01223 464420 Mobile: 07986 736179.
Notes for editors
Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit organisation and the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN). It is funded by membership fees, merchandise sales and donations, along with grants from development organisations and charitable trusts.
The boycott of Nestlé focuses on Nescafé, its flagship product, but Baby Milk Action lists the brands from which Nestlé profits so boycott supporters can avoid them all. Guardian reported on 1 September 2005: "What do Nike, Coca Cola, McDonald's and Nestlé have in common? Apart from being among the world's most well-known brands, they happen to be the most boycotted brands on the planet. That finding came from this week's global GMIPoll, an online opinion poll that surveyed 15,500 consumers in 17 countries. Nestlé emerges as the most the most boycotted brand in the UK because of what respondents consider its "unethical use and promotion of formula feed for babies in third world countries."
Nestlé won a global internet poll for the world's 'least responsible company' coinciding with the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005. Nestlé received 29% of the votes. This was more than twice that of joint second Monsanto and Dow Chemicals (of Bhopal infamy), each on 14% ( click here for details ).
For information on baby food marketing malpractice see the codewatch and boycott sections of this website. The Corporate Watch website has a detailed report on Nestlé.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. See the Your Questions Answered section.
Nestle's 49% stake in holding company Gesperal, which controlled L'Oreal, became a direct holding of 26.4% in L'Oreal in 2004.