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|==Brands & Subsidiaries==||==Brands & Subsidiaries==|
|-||[http://www.nescafe.com Nescafe], [http://www.nesquik.com Nesquik], [http://www.loreal.com L’Oreal], [http://www.maybelline.com Maybelline], [http://www.friskies.com Friskies], [http://www.coffee-mate.com/ Coffee-Mate], [http://www.leancuisine.com Lean Cuisine], [http://www.wonka.com Willy Wonka], [http://www.hersheys.com/products/details/kitkat.asp Kit Kat], [http://www.nestle.co.uk/OurBrands/AboutOurBrands/ConfectioneryAndCakes/Aero.htm Aero], [http://www.perrier.com/ Perrier], [http://www.polandspring.com/ Poland Spring], [http://www.stouffers.com Stouffers], [http://www.purina.com/ Purina], [http://www.arrowheadwater.com/ ArrowHead], [http://www.juicyjuice.com Juicy Juice]||+||[http://www.nescafe.com Nescafe],|
|+||[http://www.leancuisine.com Lean Cuisine],|
|+||[http://www.wonka.com Willy Wonka],|
|+||[http://www.hersheys.com/products/details/kitkat.asp Kit Kat],|
|+||[http://www.nestle.co.uk/OurBrands/AboutOurBrands/ConfectioneryAndCakes/Aero.htm Aero], [http://www.perrier.com/ Perrier],|
|+||[http://www.polandspring.com/ Poland Spring],|
|+||[http://www.juicyjuice.com Juicy Juice]|
|== External Links ==||== External Links ==|
Revision as of 19:23, 4 May 2008
In 1830, German pharmacist Heinrich Nestlé arrived in Vevey, Switzerland, to work on a substitute for breast-milk. In 1866 he launched the product onto the market, founding the company in 1867. Nestlé's own versions of its history can be viewed here and here (Under 'Nestlé Heritage', for Nestlé's British presence). Needless to say, however, this version doesn't give a very full explanation of the scandals which have plagued the company. The most obvious damage to Nestlé's reputation has been its unethical marketing of artificial baby milk, particularly in the global south. (See Criticisms section). This started to become a major issue in the 1970s when War on Want published a report called "The Baby Killer", which was translated into German by the Berne Third World Action Group who were subsequently sued for libel, having named their version "Nestlé Kills Babies".
However, as McDonalds were later to find out, suing critics tends to have a rather galvanising effect, and the publicity which came out of the case hurt Nestlé much more than the activists. In 1977 a boycott was launched, which continued until 1984, when Nestlé agreed to abide by the World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. However, the fact did not match up to the promises and the boycott was re-launched in 1988, continuing vigorously today.
There is, of course, much more to Nestlé than the baby milk issue. The company has attracted criticism for its use of genetically modified ingredients, and for its cocoa and coffee-buying policies, including purchasing cocoa from Ivory Coast, which has recently received heavy press coverage due to the existence of child slavery on cocoa plantations. The company has also been implicated in lobbying against vaccination of livestock during the British Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001. From environmental destruction in Brazil to the intimidation of trade unionists in Colombia, from demanding millions in compensation from hunger-stricken Ethiopia to bolstering its image through proposing donations to breast cancer charities - Nestlé is easily one of the world's most hated companies. For more details on these issues, see the 'Criticisms/Unethical Business Practice' section.
Workers Rights Criticisms
In 2001, Nestlé faced criticism for buying cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which may have been produced using child slaves. According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children in Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo were being purchased from their destitute parents and shipped to the Ivory Coast, to be sold as slaves to cocoa farms. The Ivory Coast is the biggest producer of cocoa worldwide. These children, ranging in age from 12 to 14 years (and sometimes younger) were being forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week, paid nothing, barely fed and beaten regularly. In the widespread uproar caused by the reports, Nestlé expressed its 'concerns' over the use of child labour but could not confirm that none of its chocolate was derived from slave-labour sources. Source: The Modern Face of Child Slavery. Tanya Thompson. The Scotsman 17/4/01
In Colombia, social organizations, milk producers and politicians have denounced the fact that, in spite of sufficient domestic production, huge quantities of powdered milk of a lesser quality have been imported over the years. According to the SINALTRAINAL union, the share of Colombian milk used in production has dropped from 70% to 50%. Nestlé has organized a triangular market based in Colombia: it avails itself of preferential treatment by importing cheap powdered milk, claiming to transform it into export products. Often, this powdered milk is only repackaged in small packets or treated with a bit of fresh milk in order to be exported to Venezuela while benefiting from export subsidies. Thus, Nestlé pushes export support policies to an absurd extreme, creating almost no value added for Colombia and interfering with the Venezuelan dairy market. Source: Europe Third World Centre, Bulletin #18
Nestlé has no fair trade policy to ensure that the producers of its cocoa and coffee are paid a living wage. As one of the four corporate giants dominating the coffee-roasting industry, along with Sara Lee, Kraft and Procter & Gamble, it is thus partially responsible for the plight of millions of coffee growers in the global south, who are being payed unfairly for their produce and face economic ruin due to collapsing world prices (See also Fair Trade Violations). According to Oxfam, coffee farmers are getting an average of 24 cents a pound while consumers in rich countries are paying roughly $3.60 a pound – a mark-up of 1500%. Meanwhile the global market is oversupplied by 540 million kilograms of coffee each year, and roasting companies are using more poorer quality coffee beans than ever before thanks to new technologies such as steam cleaning. Source: http://www.oxfam.org/eng/pr020918_coffee.htm
There have been several examples of Nestlé being involved in denying workers their right to collectively bargain. In Colombia, where trade unionists have been consistently targeted by right-wing paramilitiaries, eight Nestlé employees affiliated with the Food and Drink Workers Union SINALTRAINAL have been assassinated. No evidence links the company directly to the assassinations, but its own policy towards unionised labour has been extremely aggressive. In late 2001 management at Nestlé subsidiary 'Comestibles La Rosa' threatened workers that they must either renounce union membership or lose their jobs. In February 2002 the labor contract at Cicolac, Nestlé's milk processing subsidiary, was due to expire and SINALTRAINAL submitted to the company management a list of negotiating points. At the outset of the negotiations, Nestlé tried to force the signing of a completely new contract that would have eliminated substantial rights, sacking 96 workers and breaking the contracts of another 58 so their jobs could be contracted out through labour agencies.
When the negotiation deadline provided for by law had expired, the trade union planned a strike. It was canceled because of several murder threats made to union leaders. According to witnesses from the trade union, the origin of the threats were made because Nestlé had reduced the price of milk for cattle raisers and threatened to close the factory, blaming this on the SINALTRAINAL union. Believing Nestlé, the cattle raisers and paramilitary leaders made the threats against the union leaders at Valledupar5. Even now, Nestlé has refused to acknowledge publicly the work of the unions and to disassociate itself from any threat and use of force against their members. In October 2002 and March 2003, SINALTRAINAL tried, with the support of various Swiss trade unions and social movements, to make contact with the central management of Nestlé with a view to solving the problems in Colombia. Nestlé has twice refused such discussions on various pretexts. According to SINALTRAINAL, “Nestlé converts the factories into camps for the public security forces in order to create terror in the community, destroy the unity of the workers, and misinform the members of the union, with the goal of putting them against the leaders and destroying the movement”. Source: http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/Solidarity%209/Nestléscandal.html
At Tedaram, a sub-contracting manufacturer for Nestlé (Thailand), a union was organised in October 1998 for the first time within the Nestlé production network in Thailand. Thirteen workers formed the organising committee and became members of the executive board. Shortly afterwards, Nestlé wrote to Tedaram informing them that orders would decline between October and December and they should put 22 workers, who were specified, on indefinite leave on half pay. The list included all the executive committee members. Eventually all of them left Tedaram because of their growing financial difficulties to look for new jobs. The union collapsed.
- Nestle is among those companies who have chosen to remain financially involved in Burma despite the potential of any business to directly or indirectly strengthen the illegal military junta there. Source: Burma Forum Los Angeles
Extremely Unethical Business Practice
Unethical Marketing of Artificial Baby Milk
Since 1977 (with a break from 1984-1988), Nestlé has been the subject of an international boycott for its dubious marketing strategies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die each year because of inappropriate feeding, because children vulnerable to disease are being bottle-fed on breastmilk substitutes rather than breastfed whenever possible. As the world's largest artificial baby milk producer controlling 40% of the market, Nestlé has been seen as a leading cause of this catastrophe, although other companies, such as Dutch company Dumico and the US company Mead Johnson have also been implicated.
Artificial milk can harm babies because it does not contain the natural antibodies which a mother's milk provides. It is also extremely expensive, so that in many poor countries people dilute it too much to make it last longer, which causes malnutrition. In addition, the poor quality of water in many of these areas causes babies fed on substitutes to develop lethal diarrhoea and infections. Mothers who do not breastfeed will stop producing milk, making the bad choice to use artificial milk irreversible.
A WHO International Code governing the marketing of artificial baby milk, drawn up in 1981 and agreed by 118 countries, says breastfeeding should be promoted above all other products and that leaflets and labels relating to breast milk substitutes should do nothing to undermine this. But Nestlé and other companies have been accused of flouting the rules with advertising, free samples, promotions and sponsorships. The latest monitoring report from the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) uncovered about 2,000 violations of the code in 69 countries, with Nestlé responsible for more violations than any other of the big 16 baby food companies and 14 bottle and teat companies. In Thailand, it gives out samples of its milk substitutes to mothers in a marketing scheme. It provides free products to health-care facilities from China to Armenia to Peru. In Egypt, packaging and advertising of Nestlé powders repeatedly use phrases such as “identical to breast-milk” or “as in breast-milk”. In Venezuela, it distributes aprons with the company logo to nurses and other workers at pediatric wards. An 8-page brochure found in a hospital in Botswana proclaims that “Growing up is Thirsty Work” and promotes Lactogen “for the hungry full-term infant”. Source: Breaking the Rules. Stretching the Rules 2004
For more information on this issue and answers to common questions, see Baby Milk Action's Website.
- As of December 2004, an international boycott against Nestlé was in effect in at least 20 countries. Baby Milk Action reports that worldwide boycott efforts will continue until the company stops marketing breast milk substitutes and abides by the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
- Nestle refused to send company representatives to an ethics meeting in the European Parliament in Brussels. During the hearing Nestle was accused of unethical practices in Pakistan, where its sales team allegedly offered inducements such as medical equipment to health facilities that promoted the use of its formula milk. The use of formulas is discouraged by most aid workers in developing countries because contaminated water supplies make artificially-fed infants 25 times more likely to contract fatal illnesses.
- The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) reported that Nestle was one of 16 companies violating the provisions of the International Code, which prohibits all direct and indirect promotion of baby foods. Its report Breaking the Rules 2001 is based on a survey of company compliance with the International Code that was conducted by IBFAN groups in 14 countries - the United States, Canada, Russia, Malaysia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Côte d'Ivoire, Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.
- In July/August 2000 Baby Milk Action reported that Nestle operates "baby clubs" in Singapore. These clubs target pregnant mothers and promote breast milk substitutes and infant foods. Source: The Independent, May 17, 2004, et al
- In January 2005 on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, the Berne Declaration and Pro Natura - Friends of the Earth named Nestlé winner of the first "Public Eye Awards" for its irresponsible corporate behavior. Nestlé has been criticized for labor conflicts in its factories in Colombia and for its aggressive marketing methods for baby food, which jeopardize breastfeeding. Source: Ethical Corporation
More Unethical Practice:
In November 2002, police ordered Nestlé Colombia to decommission 200 tons of imported powdered milk. The milk had come from Uruguay under the brand name Conaprole, but the sacks had been repackaged with labels stating they had come from a local Nestlé factory, and stamped with false production dates of 20th September and 6th October 2002. The real production dates were between August 2001 and February 2002. [footnote http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/Solidarity%209/Nestléscandal.html] A month later another 120 tons with similarly false country of origin and production dates were discovered, pointing to systematic fraud. The discoveries caused a stir, with senators insisting the Attorney General conduct a full inquiry leading to prosecutions. Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo charged Nestlé with using sub-standard, contaminated milk, “a serious attack on the health of our people, especially the children”.
Promoting unhealthy food
A recent report by the UK Consumers Association claims that 7 out of the 15 breakfast cereals with the highest levels of sugar, fat and salt were Nestlé products.[footnote: Articles about the Consumers Association report on cereals can be found on the following links: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-1057892,00.html , http://www.which.net/campaigns/food/nutrition/index.html] Unsurprisingly, Nestlé dismisses the role of corporate responsibility in promoting healthy food. In a Daily Telegraph interview (2/3/04) Mr Brabeck claimed that he is not obese yet 'every morning I have a tablet of dark chocolate as my breakfast' and that it is the perfect balance and contains everything he needs for the day.
The Ethiopia scandal
Just before Christmas 2002, Oxfam revealed that Nestlé was demanding millions of dollars in compensation from Ethiopia – precisely when the country was in the midst of an extreme drought that put over 11 million people at risk for starvation. [footnote: http://www.guardian.co.uk/debt/Story/0,2763,881353,00.html] The $6 million demand was issued for shares in the agricultural firm ELIDCO (Ethiopian Livestock Development Company), which was nationalised following the military a coup in 1975. Nestlé had acquired ELIDCO’s parent company, the Schweisfurth Group, only a decade later. Adding insult to injury, Nestlé refused the embattled Ethiopian government’s offer of a settlement worth around $1.5m - the value of the initial shareholding, with compound interest of 6%. Instead, it demanded that the compensation would be retroactively tied to the 1975 dollar exchange rate, giving it a much higher claim. The $6 million demanded by Nestlé could provide clean water to more than 4 million people in Ethiopia and fund the construction of 6,500 wells. Following the uproar Nestlé accepted the Ethiopian governments proposal.
Perpetuating Sexism Nestlé has been sponsoring beauty contests, for example Miss Philippines 2001, encouraging the view that women are objects for looking at.
Severe Environmental Concerns
Promotion of Genetically Manufactured Food
Recently, Nestlé has been under attack for its enthusiasm for GM foods, [www.Nestlé.com/all_about/insight/index.html Nestlé's views on gene technology]. It has been repeatedly targeted by Greenpeace and has done the minimum amount to avoid more pressure from European consumers. When Thailand’s Anti-GMO Network demanded that the company adopt a GM-free policy, Nestlé Thani responded that it “believes that ingredients derived from GM crops that comply with strict regulatory and safety evaluations are safe for use in food production”. Source Nestlé spokespeople have frequently championed GM food in public, including Michael Garrett, who, unbelievably, having pointed out that the Chinese were planting crops over large areas and were eating GM food, said "You don't hear people in China complaining about it". No, you don't hear people complaining much in China at all, Mr Garrett.
According to Greenpeace UK, although capitulating to consumer pressure in some areas over GM ingredients, they cannot provide assurances that the milk they use in their products does not come from GM-fed cattle. Source
Nestle continues to market unlabeled GMO food products in the US including infant formula containing GMOs. Source: TrueFoodNow
Illegal extraction of groundwater
Nestlé production of mineral water involves the abuse of vulnerable water resources. In the Serra da Mantiqueira region of Brazil, home to the “circuit of waters” park whose groundwater has a high mineral content and medicinal properties, over-pumping has resulted in depletion and long-term damage. In 2001, residents investigating changes in the taste of the water and the complete dry-out of one of the springs discovered that Nestlé/Perrier was pumping huge amounts of water in the park from a well 150 meters deep. The water was then demineralized and transformed into table water for the “Pure Life” brand. Water usually needs hundreds of years inside the earth to be slowly enriched by minerals, and overpumping decreases its mineral content for years to come. Demineralisation is illegal in Brazil, and after the “Citizens for Water” movement turned to the authorities, a federal investigation was opened which resulted in charges against Nestlé/Perrier. Although Nestlé lost the legal action, pumping continues as it gets through the appeal procedures, a legal process which could take ten years.
Nestlé has been involved in a number of pollution incidents, including one at a pumpkin processing plant . Incidents of this kind show the hazardous nature of industrial food production: even apparently benign materials like pumpkin can turn into a serious hazard in large enough quantities. Nestlé has also been involved in water pollution incidents in Britain.
Promoting untested nano-technology
Food and cosmetic companies are now collaborating to develop “cosmetic nutritional supplements.” L’Oréal and Nestlé recently formed Laboratoires Innéov, a 50/50 joint venture. Innéov’s first product, called “Innéov Firmness,” contains lycopene. The supplement is taken orally and is marketed to women over 40 who are concerned about lost skin elasticity. Shortly after Nestlé cemented its collaboration with L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble and Olay announced they would be creating two lines of nutritional supplements together – one for “Beauty” and one for “Wellness.” While these particular supplements are not advertised as using nano-scale technologies, it is difficult to be sure since there are no labelling requirements. In any case, the food and cosmetic alliances illustrate the tendency to blur boundaries between food, medicine and cosmetics, a trend that nanotech will likely accelerate.
L’Oréal, the world’s leading cosmetics firm, already markets skin care products containing nano-scale particles. (Nestlé holds a 49% stake in L’Oréal.) The company’'s "“nanosomes"” are tiny intercellular delivery systems that penetrate the skin and then release Vitamin E. According to L’Oréal, “Given that the interstices of the outer layer of skin measure about 100 nanometers, nanovectors offer the best solution to the problem of transporting and concentrating active ingredients in the skin.”
Cosmetics containing invisible nanoparticles have not escaped notice in recent European reports on potential risks associated with manufactured nanoparticles. A Royal Society (UK) report released in July 2004 notes the dearth of toxicological data on manufactured nanoparticles. Because they are used in some cosmetics and sunscreens, the report recommends further studies of skin penetration by manufactured nanoparticles and that studies conducted by industry be placed in the public domain no doubt causing some wrinkles for L’Oréal.
Animal & Public Welfare
Pyres of Burning Animals
Nestlé has recently been exposed regarding its part in persuading the British government not to vaccinate livestock during the Foot and Mouth disease crisis. The then Chief Executive of Nestlé UK, Peter Blackburn, who is also president of the Food and Drink Federation, lobbied the government, which was apparently about to introduce a vaccination programme, and, along with the National Farmers' Union, who also opposed vaccination, managed to force a complete turnaround in policy. This is thought to be because Nestlé's profit's would be damaged by the loss of exports of powdered milk. It would probably have meant the closure of Nestlé's factory in Dalston, Cumbria, which employs 500 people and is a major producer of powdered milk to developing countries.
- Save America's Water urges a boycott of parent company Nestle, saying the bottler's subsidiary Perrier is damaging water resources by pumping too much. The organization's Web site details water "mining" issues in the following states: Florida, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Source: Save America's Water
Violations of Fair Trade
Backlashing against Fairtrade
Over the last 10 years, sales of 'fairly traded' products have risen massively, with many supermarkets not only stocking Fair trade products, but also introducing Fairtrade lines amongst their own brands in products such as coffee, tea and chocolate. Similarly, some major branded food companies, both processors and food service, offer the consumer a fair trade choice, from Starbucks to Procter and Gamble.
The Fairtrade Labelling Organisation stipulates standards for both smallholders organised into co-operatives and for organised workers, whose employers pay decent wages, guarantee the right to join trade unions and provide good housing where relevant. In the trading relationship, they stipulate that traders have to pay a price to producers that covers the cost of sustainable production and living, pay a premium that producers can invest in development, partially pay in advance when producers ask for it, and sign contracts that allow for long-term planning and sustainable production practices.
With coffee production in deep crisis due to overproduction, the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement and a highly concentrated industry and the prices paid to producers massively declining, some have seen mainstreaming fairtrade coffee as a possible solution. Nestlé disagree. Nestlé 'do not believe that the fair-trade approach is a solution for the present coffee crisis' because it would 'encourage those farmers to increase coffee production, further distorting the imbalance between supply and demand and, therefore, depressing prices for green coffee'. Nestlé claim that their purchase of 14% of beans directly from farmers 'enables the farmer to retain a greater portion of the price paid by Nestlé, therefore improving his income'.
This is not necessarily the case, however. With prices so low at the moment, many coffee farmers have responded by increasing production to compensate for lost income. If farmers received a fair price for their coffee they would be more likely to reduce production than increase it.
Nestle rated a score of 43 on Oxfam's rating of the 4 major coffee producers in 2003. According to Oxfam's report, "On the positive side, it [Nestle] led the major roasters in participating in various international forums and supporting the efforts of the International Coffee Organization, but all this talking has yet to benefit any of the struggling farmers...Nestle failed in a key area--paying the farmer a decent price for their coffee"
Companies were graded on the price they paid to farmers (70 percent), support for policy alternatives (10 percent), financial contributions (10 percent) and leadership in industry-wide initiatiives (10 percent). Other companies graded are Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee. Source: Oxfam
Influence / Lobbying Groups
A brief glance at Nestlé's board of directors and executive directors shows connections with the major international lobby groups.
- Famous for his quote 'Ethical decisions that injure a firms ability to compete are actually immoral', Helmut Maucher, now honorary chairman of Nestlé, is one of the arch-priests of corporate-led globalisation (see 'Corporate Structure' section for more details and links to a brilliant New Internationalist profile). Maucher has headed up major international corporate lobby groups such as the European Roundtable of Industrialists and the International Chamber of Commerce, probably the most powerful lobby group on earth, as well as the Geneva Business Dialogues in 1998 with the UN. His role has essentially been to secure Big Business its place at the heart of influencing major multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations as well as at the G8 and OECD. He is also on the board of trustees of the World Economic Forum, whose annual meeting in Davos draw regular protests.
- CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, meanwhile, is on the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT).
- Brabeck-Letmathe is also on the International Council of the Bretton Woods Committee, which 'works to educate Americans and their elected leaders about the many ways that international growth and development benefit the US economy and the role played by the international financial institutions in promoting that growth'. In other words, a lobby group for the IMF and World Bank.
- Former Nestlé director Arthur Dunkel deserves a paragraph all to himself: He was the Director General of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) from 1980-1993, and was responsible for the notorious Dunkel Draft, which formed the basis for the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). He is also a registered WTO dispute panellist, meaning that he is one of the privileged few who gets to decide on such issues as whether environmental laws or legislation against GM crops are barriers to free trade. He has also been on the International Chamber of Commerce working group on international trade and investment policy. His varied roles occasionally provide conflicts of interest, as in 1998 when he was selected by WTO Director-General Renato Ruggiero to serve on the dispute panel over a US law on which the International Chamber of Commerce had taken a strong position. In the end the panel's authority lapsed before it could consider the case. He is one of the clearest examples of the World Trade Organization being an organization run for and by big business.
- Former Nestlé Vice-President, Frank Cella, has also been involved in promoting 'free trade': As Chairman of the Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada, he was on the Task Force on Trade Policy during Canada-US trade talks.
- Former Nestlé UK chief executive, Peter Blackburn, moved on to become chairman of Northern Foods plc. He is also President of the major UK lobby group, the Food and Drink Federation.. Blackburn managed to have a major influence on Tony Blair over the decision not to vaccinate during foot and mouth crisis in the UK in 2001 (see 'Unethical Practice' section).
- Nestle was part of the Coalition Again$t the Costly Labeling Law, a group of companies that worked against Oregon’s Measure 27, which would have required the labeling of GMO products sold in that state. The company donated over $84,000 to defeat the Measure Source: Oregon Secretary of State
Research and Education
- In the UK, Nestlé has produced educational materials for schools, for children of all ages, on a variety of subjects, including "Food - A Global Industry", which will hardly encourage critical thinking about the way we eat. [footnote: For more information, see: www.nestle.co.uk/about/education/] Other contributions made by Nestlé to education are its sponsorship of the Australian Institute of Sport and the American Community School of Athens.
Links with Government
- Nestlé's links with governments are plentiful and powerful. It has clearly picked its board of directors with great care to ensure close links with both the Swiss and other governments. Nestle director, Kaspar Villiger, is a former Swiss head of state, finance minister and an IMF governor, so must be able to pull a few strings! Another director is Eddie George (Lord George of St Tudy), the former Governor of the Bank of England. Nestlé director, Nobuyuki Idei served as Chairman of the IT Strategy Council, an advisory committee to Japan’s Prime Minister from July to November 2000. He has now been appointed a member of Japan's IT Strategy Headquarters.
- Vice-President Michael Garrett has been appointed by the Australian government as Chairman of the Food Industry Council and Member of the Industry Council of Australia.
- Former Director Vreni Spoerry has been a member of the Swiss National Council (parliament) since 1983, and sits on the permanent commissions for economy, social security and health
- Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, who had previously supported critics of Nestlé over its marketing of artificial milk, became a staunch defender of the company in 2002 and is now listed as “Consultant on International Affairs to Nestlé, UK”. When Nestlé failed to turn up to a European Parliament public hearing on corporate accountability, Lord Ahmed requested permission to speak on its behalf and, when refused, offered to organise a meeting between MEPs and the company. The reversal happened after a visit to some of Nestlé's facilities in Pakistan – a trip paid for and arranged by Nestlé, a fact Lord Ahmed failed to reveal during an interview on the BBC Asia Network, where he defended the company at length, accusing a Pakistani Nestlé whistleblower of attempting to blackmail the company.
Below find Nestle's contributions to 527 committees since August 2000.
- In 2004, high-profile charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer refused a donation of £1 million from Nestlé. The company offered to support the charity financially and promote its work on packets of Nestlé breakfast cereals, such as Shredded Wheat and Golden Grahams. An official reason for the refusal wasn't given, but it is understood that the staff at the charity called the organisation to reject the money, fearing that Nestlé hoped to use Breakthrough's respectability and positive image to bolster its own position. Critically, Nestlé has been boycotted for its sale of baby-milk substitutes, undermining breastfeeding which has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- During 2004, two academic conferences also decided not to apply for sponsorship money from Nestlé. These were the 12th International Conference of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation and the 8th Nordic conference on Nutrition.
- Advertising Age estimate Nestlé had a 2002 worldwide ad spend of $1.5bn, making the company the world's #9 advertiser.
- Child Labor: The Chocolate Manufacturers Association and the World Cocoa Foundation and their members (including Nestle) will pay for a four-year program that will address child slavery on cocoa farms. The program is estimated to cost $2 million. The groups' aim is to have a public certification system in place by July 2005 to assure consumers that cocoa used in the production of chocolate is not grown with abusive child labor. (See related Alert item.) Source: Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, October 1, 2001
- Discrimination: Nestle Beverage has a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. Source: Human Rights Campaign
- Ethics In February 2003, under pressure from aid agencies and mounting bad publicity, Swiss-based multinational Nestle has dropped its demand for $6 million from the famine-stricken Ethiopian government. Nestle claimed the money was owed by Ethiopia since the former regime lead by Haile Mengistu nationalized a livestock company owned by a Nestle subsidiary. Instead, Nestle received a payment of $1.5 million from the government of Ethiopia for a long-standing property claim. The company in turn donated the money to famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, which is facing a drought endangering the lives of many people. The company also stated it will explore ways it could help Ethiopia to create longer-term food security and access to water. Source: The African Times- January 15, 2003
- Fair Trade Nestle was among four of the world’s largest coffee companies to sign The Common Code for the Coffee Community, an agreement to improve working conditions and environmental standards in the industry. The pact commits producers and traders to pay minimum wages, stop using child labour, allow unionization and stick to international environmental standards on pesticides and water pollution. The agreement also calls for closer ties with growers of premium beans to ensure they get the highest price. The code will be enforced by independent auditors. Source: Ethical Corporation
- Genetic Engineering After pressure from Greenpeace, Nestle Hong Kong has announced a phase-out of genetically engineered food, and is in the process of removing GE ingredients from remaining products. Nestle was accused of incorporating double standards because of the company's earlier phase-out of GE material for European consumers (see related Genetic Engineering Issue alerts). Source: Greenpeace, January 21, 2000