Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Nestle Boycott

In the 1970's the media revealed to the world shocking photos of dying babies in developing countries. Everyone found out that the marketing of baby formula to women in developing countries who could not afford to pay for it, didn't have access to clean water or who didn't understand that using formula would interfere with going back to breastfeeding. Babies were fed diluted formula or formula mixed with bad water and were missing out on immune protection from breastfeeding and therefore developed infections and illness.

In response, in 1981 NGO's, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, formula companies, and scientists got together and created a code of ethics on marketing infant formula and bottles. The basic gist of the agreement was: 

1. Marketing couldn't directly or indirectly target the consumer (no free samples given to pregnant women or parents at all), but advertising about formula can be given to providers (doctors and nurses); 

2. Literature on infant feeding must be provided by the government, not formula companies and all donations of money or equipment by formula companies to health care providers must be done openly and without special benefits.  

To view the entire WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, click here (pdf).

This code, however, is not law, and the formula companies disregard it. Nestle, who owns Carnation, especially, disregards these rules in countries all over the world, and this is a big reason for the Nestle product ban. They, along with many other companies, advertise heavily to doctors and hospitals, giving money, equipment and free products. They also directly advertise to consumers through the mail and provide discharge packs for new moms leaving the hospital full of formula samples and brochures on how "formula is just as good as breast milk."

Overview of Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

via phdinparentin's excellent post on this topic
Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:
Nestlé defends its unethical business practices and uses doublespeak, denials and deception in an attempt to cover up or justify those practices. When laws don’t exist or fail to hold Nestlé to account, it takes public action to force Nestlé to change. Public action can take on many forms, including boycotting Nestlé brands, helping to spread the word about Nestlé’s unethical business practices, and putting pressure on the government to pass legislation that would prevent Nestlé from doing things that put people, animals and the environment at risk.

The Nestlé boycott has been going on for more than 30 years and Nestlé is still one of the three most boycotted companies in Britain. Although Nestlé officials would like to claim that the boycott has ended, it is still very much alive. But it needs to get bigger in order to have a greater impact.

Nestlé owns a lot of brands and is the biggest food company in the world, so people wishing to boycott their brands need to do a bit of homework first to familiarize themselves with the brand names to avoid in the stores.



  1. but i loooove nestle chocolate :(

    and yeah as i was reading i was like, "what?!? this is illegal? then WHY have i been receiving formula samples in the mail?" because, yes, i am STILL getting shit in the mail for pregnant women, though I am not pregnant. w.t.f. what kind of prank IS this!

  2. Well... the code isn't actually "law" as stated above, so its not illegal to send you the formula packets (though still very odd that you're still getting it)... just immoral!

  3. i've been drinking bird nest soup every night (i only get the homemade kind back at home). the only reason why i drink it is because it's supposed to be good for complexion.

    i’ve been taking the store-bought kind online (e.g. of famous branded only of course) which is directly mailed from Hong Kong. this would be at a more affordable price.

  4. Hi,

    I've been reading a lot about the Nestle boycott recently as I'm writing a report about it as part of a university assignment.

    I'd be really grateful if you could have a look at my blog post and share some of your views.

    Thanks, Charlotte x


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