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Campaigners criticise Nestlé shared value report as PR whitewash to divert attention from malpractice

Press release 4 March 2008

Nestlé launched a report on 3 March called 'Creating Shared Value' which Chairman and Chief Executive Peter Brabeck-Letmathé promoted saying of Nestlé's business approach: "This enables us to deliver five to six per cent organic growth while at the same time improving our environmental and social performance, thereby having a positive impact on millions of people across the world." Campaigners from around the world, however, point instead to the company's well-documented practices of aggressively marketing baby foods, trade union busting, failing to act on child slavery in its cocoa supply chain, depleting water resources and other concerns.

Baby Milk Action is calling for Nestlé to be expelled from the UN Global Compact for bringing it into disrepute after the company launched the report at a joint event in New York, and for the drastic revision or scrapping of the highly-flawed Global Compact itself, an initiative that accepts such reports and publishes them on its website without any form of auditing, monitoring or investigative procedure.

Nestle profile detail 2007

Nestlé has publicly attempted to justify practices such as branding new-born babies from birth in China and distributing fliers promoting Lactogen formula to mothers visiting health facilities in Bangladesh.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"Independent monitoring we conduct with partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds that Nestlé systematically violates the baby food marketing requirements adopted by the World Health Assembly. When it conducts audits it does so against its own discredited 'Instructions' instead of the Assembly measures, but even then the audits miss violations of the 'Instructions'. We are currently supporting our colleagues in South Africa by targeting Nestlé's advertising of infant formula in supermarkets.".

Nestlé has repeatedly been found to be the worst of the baby food companies in IBFAN's Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules reports. The latest edition was published in November 2007 - click here.

Other concerns about Nestlé's practices include:

In 2007 Nestlé's Global Public Affairs Manager, Dr. Gayle Crozier Willi, admitted Nestlé is 'widely boycotted', which Mr. Brabeck has consistently denied in his public statements. GMIPoll has found that Nestlé is one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet.

For an analysis of a previous Nestlé Corporate Social Responsibility report, see Nestlé's PR Machine Exposed. An analysis of the latest report is being prepared.

The full report can be downloaded from the Nestlé website.

Nestlé's auditors, Bureau Veritas, have shown themselves in the past to have, at best, had a poor understanding of independent auditing. Their audits on baby food marketing have been against Nestlé Instructions rather than the World Health Assembly measures and missed violations found by IBFAN. When they investigated Nestlé's water extraction in São Lourenço, Brazil, they seemed to be unaware and did not report that the company had been taken to court by the town's public prosecutor! For further information click here.

Quotes from other campaigns:

Water (Brazil):

Franklin Fredrick from Brazil said: "We had to battle for 10 years to stop Nestlé breaking federal laws in Brazil as its water extraction was destroying the historic water park in São Lourenço. We didn't experience much in the way of 'shared value' from Nestle. It put its own profits before our community."

Trade unions (Philippines):

The Cabuyao Workers' Campaign said in a statement:

"We, the more than 600 workers and their families employed at the Nestlé Philippines factory in Cabuyao, Laguna and members of the Union of Filipro Employees (UFE-DFA-KMU), marked the 6th year of our strike against Nestlé Philippines, Inc. – and its systematic policies of corporate collusion with the state in the forcible subjugation of workers' rights and interests – on January 14, 2008, and we remain undaunted, for we know that ultimately we have the superior moral authority of working class ethics on our side. We reject Nestlé's sham Creating Shared Value 2007 report and support the call for the company to be expelled from the UN Global Compact for bringing it into disrepute. We further call on our fellow U.N. workers and class allies, those employed in the U.N. bureaucracies, to assert your power and scrap the Global Compact entirely, as an initiative that accepts such reports without any auditing, monitoring or investigative procedures."

For details of this issue see:

For more information contact:  

Patti Rundall, Baby Milk Action's Policy Director on 07786 523493 or
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator on 020 3239 9222.


  1. The UN Global Compact states: "The initiative is not designed, nor does it have the mandate or resources, to monitor or measure participants’ performance." However, it does investigate complaints of companies bringing the initiative into disrepute. For IBFAN's analysis of the Global Compact and Nestlé click here.

  2. 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.

  3. Nestlé is the target of the boycott as independent monitoring finds it is responsible for more violations the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions than any other company.

  4. 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.

  5. 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."

  6. 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 ).

  7. 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.

  8. While companies claim it is difficult to monitor their supply chains, the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation has certified 8,000 farms in Ivory Coast as complying with its strict criteria. Unfortunately, the cooperative is unable to sell all the coffee it produces to Fairtrade chocolate companies and the transnational corporations are not supporting the Fairtrade initiative. As a result the cooperative has to sell some of its cocoa at normal world market rates. One of the buyers is Nestlé. So while it could deal with the farmers paying a fair price and fulfilling Fairtrade criteria, such as long-term contracts, it chooses not too. At the same time Nestlé uses its one and only Fairtrade product, Partners' Blend coffee, in its public relations campaigns to counter criticisms of its trading practices .

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