Nestlé ethical issues
Our research highlights several ethical issues with Nestlé, including climate change, environmental reporting, habitats & resources, palm oil, pollution and toxics, human rights, workers' rights, supply chain management, irresponsible marketing, animal rights, animal testing, factory farming, anti-social finance, controversial technologies and political activities.
Below we outline of some of these issues. To see the full detailed stories, and Nestlé's overall ethical rating, please sign in or subscribe.
There is a long standing boycott of Nestlé over its irresponsible marketing of breast milk substitutes. Boycotters have long accused Nestlé of harming children through the unethical promotion of infant formula.
Nestlé is one of the most boycotted brands in the UK as a result of its activities. Baby Milk Action is one of the organisations which calls for such a boycott.
Baby Milk Action describes itself as a non-profit organisation which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding. Nestlé is targeted with the boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Organisation's marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company.
Baby Milk Action quotes 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." It then goes on to say that Nestlé does dispute the facts and directs people to a section of its website for responses to Nestlé's denials and deception. It states that the boycott will continue until Nestlé accepts and complies with its four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott.
Nestlé also faces boycott calls from the non-profit The Council of Canadians and the indigenous rights organisation the Lakota People's Law Project over its extraction of scarce water sources. The organisations say that Nestlé continues "to pump millions of litres of water from watersheds", despite serious droughts in recent years, and "to act beyond the boundaries of ecological protection and basic human dignity." The Council of Canadians argues that Nestlé's water projects don't have the free, prior and informed consent of local indigenous communities, a requirement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Nestlé receives a worst rating for palm oil policy and practice because its statement is vague and confusing. The company stated that "in 2013 we achieved 100% certified palm oil products". Yet the company gave numbers for the amount of palm oil and palm kernel oil that it used, and the amount of certified palm and palm kernel oil that it used. Based on these numbers it appears most of its palm oil is not certified, despite its statement from 2013.
In February 2017 Ethical Consumer viewed the 2016 'The Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare' (BBFAW) report.
The assessment rates companies based on their published information surrounding animal welfare. Companies are ranked from Tier 1 which indicates a leader in the industry, down to Tier 6 which shows a total disregard for animal welfare. Nestlé was marked in Tier 3, and had failed to make progress since the 2013 BBFAW report.
Therefore Nestlé lost a mark in the Animal Rights category for failing to make any significant progress.
During the 2016 election cycle Nestlé and its employees gave $84,950 to US political candidates, with a moderately even split between the Democrats and the Republicans. It also spent $3,130,000 on political lobbying in 2016, and $2,477,000 in 2017.
In 2017 Nestlé was found to be a member of several high profile international lobby groups.
The European Roundtable of Industrialists Ethical Consumer considered the European Roundtable of Industrialist to be a high level corporate lobby group which exerted undue corporate influence, at the potential detriment of the environment and human and animal rights.
The World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum was a lobby group which campaigned for greater economic liberalisation and deregulation. Ethical Consumer considered the WEF to be a corporate lobby group which lobbied for free trade at the expense of the environment, animal welfare, human rights or health protection.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This was regarded by Ethical Consumer as an international corporate lobby group which exerted corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights.