Press release 19 May 2012
Campaigners gathering for the annual boycott demonstration at Nestlé (UK) HQ in Croydon (19 May 11:00 – 12:00) faced the Nestlé monster - a costume dinosaur representing the company, which recently swallowed up Pfizer's infant nutrition business (marketing the SMA brand of formula in the UK), and which tramples on the rights of mothers and babies. Demonstrations also took place at other locations and there was a virtual demonstration on Facebook.
Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the UK and one of the four most boycotted on the planet. Campaigners distributed "Fight the Nestlé monster" leaflets with ten facts executives do not want people to know. This leaflet includes an OCR code that can be read by a smartphone to access further details. See: babymilkaction.org/monster
Left: constraining the Nestlé monster at the demonstration - click for high resolution image.
According to PR Week (25 April 2012), Nestlé revamped its Public Relations support prior to the demonstration by asking four companies to pitch for a £500,000 corporate affairs and social media contract. See: Nestlé revamps PR support as protest looms.
The company claims around the world that its baby milk 'protects' babies, despite the fact that babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Nestlé refuses to stop this strategy, which it has launched in 120 countries. In a recent move, Nestlé has also backtracked on a past commitment not to advertise formula brands in what it describes as "high risk" countries (an example from Armenia is shown left).
The campaign also aims to protect babies fed on formula. In the UK, labels have to warn that powdered formula is not sterile and that water above 70 deg. C should be used to mix up the powder to kill any harmful bacteria that it may contain and then cooled before feeding. This is in line with the World Health Organisation's Guidelines for the safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula (also see the Infant Formula Explained DVD). Nestlé has repeatedly refused to include this information on its labels and campaigners are concerned about what may happen now it is entering the UK market with the takeover of the SMA brand. Nestlé does not respect national laws: in India it is targeting health workers with sponsored events, despite the Indian Government stating repeatedly that this is against its laws.
In the Philippines, Nestlé is currently part of an industry alliance seeking to undermine strong legislation by pushing for a new weak law to be adopted. An international campaign successfully defended the strong Regulations in 2006 - 2007, but the industry does not give up. An international campaign of solidarity with the Philippines will be launched again shortly.
Nestlé, the global market leader, is found by Baby Milk Action and its partners to be the worst of the baby food companies in terms of the volume and types of violations and drives down standards for the industry as a whole.
At the Nestlé shareholder meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 19 April 2012, Baby Milk Action's Campaigns and Networking Coordinator, Mike Brady, called on the Nestlé board to bring baby food marketing practices into line with World Health Assembly marketing requirements. Nestlé Chairman, Mr Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, replied that it wasn't Baby Milk Action's place to tell him what to do - press release.
The World Health Assembly, which is meeting in Geneva 21 - 26 May, has repeatedly called for companies to bring their activities at every level into line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions. According to UNICEF: "Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute."
Baby Milk Action's Mike Brady said:
The Nestlé monster has swallowed Pfizer's infant nutrition business, further consolidating its position as global market leader. Executives drive down standards for the industry as a whole by systematically violating internationally agreed marketing standards. They said they would act on just 3% of violations cited in the last global monitoring report. We work with our partners in the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) for legislation, and over 60 countries have brought in laws to control baby food marketing. Where laws do not exist or are not enforced people can prompt changes by sending letters, demonstrating and supporting our work.
Nestlé recently agreed to drop the claim that its formula is "The new 'Gold Standard' in infant nutrition" when this was targeted in Baby Milk Action's ongoing email Nestlé campaign. See Update 44.
For further information contact Mike Brady on 07986 736179 and firstname.lastname@example.org
First pictures. Film clip coming soon. Click on images for larger version. All images free to use, giving photo credit of Baby Milk Action - www.babymilkaction.org
Below: Taming the Nestlé monster at the demonstration.
The Nestlé monster
Agency photographer at the event. Freelance photographer Rudolf Abraham also has pictures available at: