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Nestlé MP sets up consultancy

The former MP covering Buxton, where Nestlé bottles water, stood down at the May General Election. Mr. Tom Levitt became notorious for defending Nestlé after receiving free tickets to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and Lords cricket matches, and an all-expenses-paid trip to South Africa - where he failed to notice Nestlé advertising formula in supermarkets, something that even its competitors labelled as a breach of the marketing requirements. Mr. Levitt refused to meet with Baby Milk Action. 

Private Eye reported in February that Mr. Levitt had lined up a job as a paid advisor to Nestlé, which Mr. Levitt denied. If Mr. Levitt were to go on the Nestlé payroll, he would be following in the footsteps of past Nestlé apologists such as Lord Nazir Ahmed who became a Nestlé consultant two years after conducting an ‘independent’ investigation of Nestlé in Pakistan, which turned out to have been organised and funded by the company (Update 31).

For the time being Mr. Levitt has set himself up as a consultant operating under the name Sector 4 Focus. His pitch: “Building on 13 years of Parliamentary experience, I offer bespoke training on lobbying and befriending local MPs and councillors. My specialist area of interest is in building partnerships between third sector groups and private businesses with a common mission.”


Nestlé sells Alcon, buys pizza

Nestlé completed its sale of its Alcon contact lens business to Novartis in January 2010, fuelling speculation that it would use the US$ 39 billion in its bid to buy Cadbury’s, a UK confectionery company.  In the event, Cadbury’s was bought by Kraft in an £11.7 billion takeover. Kraft partly financed the deal by selling its US frozen pizza business to Nestlé, which used US$3.7 billion of its Alcon cash for the purchase.


Nestlé crashes BlogHer Conference

A conference for thousands of female bloggers took place in New York on 8 August. Blogging is big business in the States, with companies offering gifts for product endorsements by prominent bloggers. Last year Nestlé provoked a PR disaster when it invited parenting bloggers to a five-star Californian hotel, complete with celebrity chef. A storm erupted on the Twitter social networking site as people posted questions to be put to Nestlé executives over business malpractice and concerns were raised over conflicts of interest.

Nestlé’s Twitter PR disaster was one of the issues scheduled for discussion at BlogHer - then it was announced at the last minute that Nestlé had been taken on board as a sponsor with its Stouffer brand. Several prominent Nestlé critics put their tickets to the event in the bin, but others decided to attend to shame Nestlé and call for BlogHer to implement an ethical funding policy.

• According to PR Week in February: “Nestle received a ‘positivity’ score in social media of just 12 out of 100 in an audit by Yomego Social Media Reputation” and was recruiting yet another PR company to try to improve its image. It has also set up digitalthinktank asking members of the public to help. The advertising agency also claimed Nestlé is amongst the companies paying celebrities US$10,000 per tweet to say nice things about it. 

• In April best-selling children’s recipe author Annabel Karmel ended her links with Nestlé after learning about Nestlé’s baby food marketing practices. 

• We don’t have money but we have supporters. Why not add our new Nestlé - Good Grief ! logo and jingle to online articles about the boycott?


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