Why Boycott Nestlé?

Nestlé aggressively promote their baby milks to mothers and health workers to ensure that infants are bottle fed. Such promotion is condemned by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund.

WHO and UNICEF say that reversing the decline in breastfeeding could save up to 1.5 million lives each year.

If babies are given bottles, they are less able to suckle well. This makes breastfeeding failure more likely.

The water mixed with baby milk powder in poor conditions is often unsafe. This leads to diarrhoea and often death. Each day, 4000 babies die from unsafe bottle feeding, say UNICEF.

Baby milk is very expensive: it can cost over 50% of the family income.

Poor people often have to over-dilute the baby milk powder to make it last longer. The baby is then likely to become malnourished.

Breastfeeding is free, safe and protects against infection. Even undernourished mothers can breastfeed. Breastfeeding is the best start in life for a child - but Nestlé's baby food marketing puts profits before lives. Nestlé know that if they don't get babies on the bottle, they don't do business.

Nestlé takes notice of sales figures. Stock the options. Stop the deaths.

Breaking The Rules

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, made by WHO/UNICEF, covers marketing of all breastmilk substitutes. These include: infant formulae including so-called "hypo-allergenic" formulae; pre-term milks and other "special baby milks"; follow-up milks (also known as follow-on or weaning formulae); baby foods, gruels, teas and juices used before the baby reaches six months of age ("soft foods"); bottles and teats/nipples. The marketing of any product perceived and used as a partial or total replacement of breastmilk is also covered, even if the product is not suitable for that purpose - whole milk powder, for example.

Breaking the Rules 1994, published by the British Medical Association, states that Nestlé substantially violates the following rules:

  • No promotion in health care facilities;
  • No promotion to health workers;
  • No free supplies;
  • No inappropriate marketing of follow-up milks;
  • No inappropriate marketing of soft foods:

And only partially complies with the following:

  • Adequate labels;
  • No direct promotion to the public.

Does The Boycott Cost Jobs?

It is sometimes suggested that by encouraging people to boycott Nescafé and other Nestlé products, we are jeopardising the jobs of Nestlé workers. The boycott targets Nescafé as it is Nestlé's highest-profile and biggest-selling product. Baby Milk Action (accessible via the links pages) is encouraging people to switch brands, not to stop buying instant coffee, so an overall loss of jobs in coffee production is not a possibility.

Sales of Nescafé account for around 12% of Nestlé's global turnover; sales of baby milk make up less than 2%. No financially aware company could allow protest over such a small part of its business to seriously affect the sales of its flagship product. Marketing figures suggest that in 1992, the boycott led to a 3% drop in Nescafé sales. No jobs were lost and no worker has ever lost his or her job as a result of the boycott.

Hull University Union Position

This Union does not approve of Nestlé's position in the Third World. A Union resolution made by Council on 20th November 1995 and support signs placed in the Union shop indicate this.

What Can You Do To Support The Campaign?

  • Boycott Nescafé and Nestlé products until they abide by the spirit and letter of the WHO/UNICEF code of marketing of baby milk.
  • Above all, remember the easiest thing - cut out Nescafé. If you want to boycott other Nestlé products, a list is available from the Campaigns office.
  • Sign the petition in the Campaigns office and pop in for more information.

This Union does not approve of Nestlé's record in the Third World. Think before you buy.


ArrowPrevious Article Return to Articles Index