In a light-hearted paper published in the Christmas 2013 edition of the British Medical Journal, researchers observed how quickly staff on hospital wards helped themselves to free chocolates. They found that Nestlé chocolates (Quality Street) survived longer than Cadbury chocolates (Roses). Staff in all roles consumed less Nestlé chocolates than Cadbury chocolates. See: http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f7198
The authors did not question why this might be, but the study provides indirect evidence of support for the Nestlé boycott amongst hospital staff. Nestlé is the target of a boycott because of its systematic violation of baby milk marketing requirements around the world and in the UK.
Possible follow-up studies could investigate the effectiveness of using Baby Milk Action materials for raising awareness of the boycott, such as the product list cards, which give a brief summary of the issue and list Nestlé main brands, including Quality Street. A poster showing how Nestlé's claims to support breastfeeding and abide by formula marketing rules are shown to be false by the company's own formula labels is available as a free download. "Fight the Nestlé Monster" t-shirts are also available (and on special promotion in December). See the Nestlé-Free Zone for resources: http://info.babymilkaction.org/nestlefree
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
"Surveys have revealed Nestlé to one of the most boycotted on the planet and in the UK, so the finding in the BMJ paper that health workers are less likely to consume Nestlé chocolates is not surprising. Nestlé executives put company profits before the health and well-being of babies and their families. The boycott gives executives a financial reason to think twice about breaking marketing rules and has forced some changes. We have repeatedly called on Nestlé Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, to bring practices into line with World Health Assembly marketing requirements and respect national measures, including at the shareholder meeting, where he replied to me in 2012, 'It's not for Baby Milk Action to tell me what to do'. I hope Mr Brabeck and his board will look to the latest research published in the BMJ on chocolate consumption patterns amongst health workers and consider the impact of the boycott and their ongoing refusal to follow the rules. Merry Christmas."
The authors did not seek ethical approval for the study, but did consider the possible impact on diets of providing free chocolates. The ethical concerns around purchasing and distributing a product on the Nestlé boycott list as part of the study was not considered, although many people will be avoiding Quality Street and other Nestlé products this Christmas as part of their support for the boycott.