for public relations disaster as Chief Executive launches
audits on baby food marketing in Africa
here for post
event assessment. Download
the leaflet 10
does not want you to know about its baby food business which
was handed to investors as they arrived at the meeting. Click
here to view Nestlé's archived
webcast of the event (please contact
us if this link is dead).
Milk Action's press release prior to the event
Chief Executive, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, is setting
the worlds largest food company up for a public
relations disaster reminiscent of his 1999 book
of government letters as he claims independent audits
clear the company of baby food marketing malpractice in
3 African countries.
Leaks about the
Africa audits, which are to be launched for Mr. Brabeck
by Vice President Michael Garrett at an event for investors
on Nestlés "Commitment to Africa"
on 22 March in London (click
here), suggest the auditors Nestlé commissioned
used Nestlés discredited interpretation of
the WHA marketing requirements for baby foods and claim
to have found only three minor violations.
refused to attend a public tribunal proposed by Baby Milk
Action, where both sides and supporting experts would present
their cases before an independent panel.
baby food marketing malpractice and attempts to divert
criticism through denials and deception cause serious
harm to the company's image. Mr. Brabeck's past interventions
(such as in 1999, from when this cover dates) have
generated headlines such as 'Mr.
Nestlé gets angry'.
Mike Brady, Campaigns
and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said:
has a track record of shooting himself in the foot with his
aggressive approach to the baby milk issue. We hold a token
number of shares in Nestlé to attend events such as the
report launch on 22 March, but our registration has been refused.
They do not want investors to hear the truth about Nestlés
systematic and institutionalised violation of the baby food
marketing requirements and the damage Mr. Brabecks strategy
of denials and deception causes the company. But boycott supporters
will turn out to politely bring the truth to the attention of
investors as they arrive. If Mr. Brabeck really believes that
the facts are on his side, why did he refuse to send a company
representative to the European
Parliament's Public Hearing into Nestlé in 2000 and
why has Nestlé rejected our proposal for a public tribunal
before an independent panel?"
Until March 2001 Nestlé
refused to even speak in public if Baby Milk Action was in the
room, but due to pressure from a boycott (the best supported consumer
action in the UK, according to Ethical Consumer Magazine) has
been attending debates at universities and schools, all of which
it has lost (click
here). Baby Milk Action has proposed a public tribunal be
held where each side could present its case at length to an independent
panel which could, with the help of expert witnesses, ascertain
who is telling the truth (click
here). Nestlé has repeatedly rejected this suggestion
at debates. Mr. Brabeck is concerned at the strength of the international
boycott and the baby food campaign, which caused him to reverse
the companys policy on labelling of complementary foods
two years ago. Nestlé had been refusing to abide by a 1994
World Health Assembly Resolution, which states complementary
feeding should be fostered from about 6 months, and
continued to label foods for use from 4 months or, in the case
of some infant teas, from 2 weeks of age. UNICEF wrote to Mr.
Brabeck in 1997 calling for him to change company policy (click
here) and the World Health Assembly adopted a further Resolution
in 2001. During national demonstrations in the UK in 2003, Nestlé
announced it was taking the initiative in changing
labels. Monitoring shows this promise is not being kept everywhere.
came under further scrutiny when the International Baby Food
launched its Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules 2004
monitoring report at the House of Commons on 13 May 2004, setting
out evidence from 69 countries (click
here for the report - click
here for a DVD
of the launch).
again the worst of the 16 baby food companies profiled. An
Early Day Motion from
for action was well supported. In a letter to IBFAN, Nestlé
head office claimed it was not aware of the systematic malpractice
documented in the report and requested information on where
own advertisements had been published, materials distributed
and free supplies provided. IBFAN sent detailed information
head office last year, but has still not received a reply.
The Nestlé meeting
will take place on 22 March 2005 at One Great George Street, Westminster,
London, SW1P 3AA. Demonstrators will be gathering at 15:00. The
meeting begins at 15:30. See http://production.investis.com/nes/commitment_africa/
For further information
contact Mike Brady, email@example.com
Tel: 01223 464420
Mobile: 07986 736179
Notes for Editors
boycott has been launched by national groups in 20 countries
on all continents. The Canadian boycott group, Infact
Canada, has produced a briefing paper on Nestlé
in Africa. Click
here to download.
1999 Mr. Brabeck sent a hard-bound 183-page book of letters
to policy makers and critics around the world claiming it
contained official responses from 54 goverments
that verify Nestlé compliance with the International
Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Many
of the letters were clearly not the verifications Mr.
claimed and Nestlé soon had to issue apologies when
some of the authors complained
that their letters had been misrepresented and used without
here for details). On this occasion, Mr. Brabeck was
reacting to a ruling by the UK Advertisng Standards Authority
a Nestlé anti-boycott advertisement in which the company
claimed to market infant formula ethically and responsibly.
After a two-year investigation, the ASA upheld all of Baby
Milk Action's complaints about the advertisement (click
here for details of the complaints and here
for the final ruling and here
for the Chief Executive's response).
company Nestlé pays to conduct audits, Emerging Market
Economics, damaged its own reputation with an audit on Pakistan
in 2000, in which it found only three minor violations, exactly
the same claim as made in the African audits. EME used Nestlé
discredited interpretation of the WHA marketing requirements
and were forbidden from contacting monitoring organisations
or a Nestlé whistle blower who had documentary evidence
of malpractice, including the bribing of doctors. Baby Milk
Action wrote to Nestlé offering to provide docuemntary
evidence to the auditors and this was not passed on. Instead
the auditors were limited to interviewing doctors and distributors
from a list provided by Nestlé. In November 2000 the
European Parliament conducted a Public Hearing into Nestlés
baby food marketing activities. This was boycotted by Nestlé,
who instead sent Mr. Sunil Sinha from EME to present the Pakistan
audit. This became embarrassing when UNICEFs Legal Officer,
attending as an expert witness, indicated that Nestlés
marketing instructions, used as the basis of the audit, were
much weaker than the WHA marketing requirements (click
here for details).
The Boston Herald
reported on Mr. Brabecks attitude to corporate social
responsibility on 9 March 2005. See http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=72326
shouldn't feel obligated to ``give back'' to the community,
because they haven't taken anything away, the Austrian-born
chief of the world's largest food company told local executives
yesterday. In a stunning broadside to corporate citizenship
as Bostonians have come to know it, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe -
head of Nestle S.A. - said companies should only pursue charitable
endeavors with an underlying intention of making money for investors."
investors attending Nestlé's
prestige event in sight of Big Ben received the above
and the 10 facts leaflet.
referred to by the Chair of the meeting as it opened
and prompted a question from Goldman Sachs (see below).
on the pictures for high resolution versions).
thanks to supporters who turned up to leaflet and to the
media who attended.
Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordintor at Baby Milk Action,
phoned to register a question on his mobile
phone after leafleting investors, having been refused entry,
but was held on the line for 20 minutes without being able
to do so. Nestlé refused to provide a copy of its report for
Baby Milk Action to analyse in detail.
following is Baby Milk Action's transcript of the question
on baby milk, taken from the publicly accessible webcast at http://clients.world-television.com/Nestle_0305_SRI/ (Editors, please check against
For evidence disproving Nestlé's
claims see above and the leaflet 10
facts Nestlé does not want you to know about its baby
Baby Milk Action Transcript
Mark Lynch, Goldman Sachs: I guess it would be
remiss not to ask a question about IMF marketing. What are the
restrictions you place upon yourselves and obviously.-.and how
has that impacted the development of that business and I guess
also is it actually an issue in the markets that you sell IMF
Mike Garrett (Nestle): [Asks Penny.]
Penny (Nestle): The marketing of IF is
something we are very strict with. I happen to run the nutrition
business, so we do have infant formula in all those markets.
The way we market it. We do not talk to mothers. We do not
advertise on radio or TV, and that applies both to starter
and follow on formulae. But we talk directly to the doctors
and the health care professionals in terms of providing
the scientific information about our products so the doctors
can make the right decisions in terms of prescribing when
there is a need to use IF.
Mike Garrett:-because our competitors
don't work by the same set of rules and guidelines. We basically
conformed with the WHO Code from the very, very early days.
We recognised there need to be a set of standards they should
be the body that established those standards not any independent
industry member. But the United States never signed the
WHO Code so therefore the companies under the-the American-
based companies,none of them comply and many of the European
companies turn a blind eye, if they say they comply .
advertisement in South Africa inviting mothers to attend
sessions on infant feeding in supermarkets. Seeking direct
and indirect contact with mothers is banned by the Code.
Nestlé argues that as the products pictured in
the advertisement are complementary foods, it is not covered.
Asked to clarify, UNICEF's Legal Officer has said that
the 'prohibition is absolute' and the company should not
be seeking contact with pregnant women or mothers of infants
and young children (up to 3 years old).
So from a market share point of view, yeah, we've lost market
share, there's no doubt about that, but the serious health professionals
who recognise the innate qualities of the different products,
will then prescribe them as Penny mentioned, according to what
is appropriate in the individual case. We've walked away from
all of that and there's always criticism, people who say we are
breaking the Code -but when we go and investigate its usually
someone talking about infant cereals, not IF, which is not under
the scope of the code for children over the age of 12 months,
over the age of 6 months and so on. So there is still a lot of
controversy about it and topics, but we are very serious about
here for the full leaflet)
type of promotion encourages health workers and mothers
to use the formula in any case of diarrhoea - yet children
fed on the formula are at greater risk of diarrhoea than
has distributed pamphlets for its Pelargon formula, which
is being used in HIV interventions in Botswana. One pamphlet
(left) suggests the formula helps to prevent diarrhoea.
here for an independent expert assessment of Nestlé's
health claims for Pelargon formula.
And I think that people like UNICEF who used to think of us as
the devil recognise that we are doing our job in trying to do
that, and I've sat very many times on discussions with Carol Bellamy
and so on and so forth, and we now are able to dialogue and able
to discuss and able to have this communication, which was not
possible 10 years ago, because we have made a huge effort to conform
to the WHO Code.
Penny: I think what is helping is the self-monitoring
that we are imposing on ourselves. Because in areas for instance,
where the Code doesn't exist, we will use the WHO Code as the
standard, or the Nestlé Code which is actually stricter
than the WHO Code. We do the self-monitoring, And then we do a
dialogue with the Government in order to assist and to ensure
that ,as an industry, we make sure the marketing is appropriate.
here for a legal evaluation of Nestlé's monitoring,
including an analysis comparing Nestlé's Instructions with
the International Code and Resolutions].
Mike Garrett: Its a hugely sensitive area in
Africa and any developing country of course, but Africa is particularly
difficult and we are extremely strict in the implementation of
the WHO Code.