In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the website for the indigenous rights organisation Lakota People's Law Project, which called for a boycott of Nestlé and all its brands.

An article explaining the boycott was also found on the organisation's website titled "The Case Against Nestlé" and dated to June 2018. The article stated: "Michigan made headlines the world over on April 6, when Gov. Rick Snyder announced that the state would no longer distribute no-cost water bottles to the communities of Flint – citing that water quality in the city has been below federal action level for lead for two years. International conglomerate Nestlé stepped in and announced that they will donate water in the midst of the continued water crisis."

It also stated that "Nestlé’s new permit, awarded by the Michigan Department for Environmental Quality, allows it to pump 400 gallons of water per minute out of the state’s freshwater sources, for only $200 per year. And yet, some of Flint’s residents pay more than that per month for the contaminated water that courses through their taps. Flint residents, who have not had access to clean water in 1,510 days, are understandably not too keen on accepting bottles of water from the same company that is stealing theirs."

The article also cited Nestlé's irresponsible marketing of baby milk products; and its poor palm oil sourcing; as well as accusing it of 'corruption in California', stating "Until a recent investigation by the California Water Board, Nestlé was depleting water resources with little regulation and oversight, thanks to an expired permit to pump water from the San Bernardino National Forest".

The company lost a full mark under Boycott Call.

Reference:

Nestlé Boycott Pledge (25 January 2019)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the website for the not-for-profit organisation The Council of Canadians. The organisation was calling for a boycott of Nestlé.

It stated that Nestle had purchased a well in Ontario despite the local municipality's attempt to also purchase it to safeguard the water supply.

The website also stated: "Downstream from Nestlé’s operations, many people from Six Nations of the Grand River do not have clean, running water. Under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, governments are required to obtain free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous peoples for water projects like this [...] Nestlé's permit to draw water in Aberfoyle, ON, expired on July 31, 2016. Since then, they've taken over 1.5 BILLION litres! Boycott Nestlé!"

The company therefore lost a mark under Boycott Call and Human Rights for failing to respect Indingenous right to free, prior and informed consent.

Reference:

Nestlé Boycott Pledge (25 January 2019)

Ethical Consumer visited the Baby Milk Action website in February 2020 and found its long standing boycott of Nestlé over its irresponsible marketing of breast milk substitutes was ongoing.
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. According to Baby Milk Action, which describes itself as a non-profit organisation which aims to save lives and to end the avoidable suffering caused by inappropriate infant feeding, Nestlé was targeted with the boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) found it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Organisation's marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company.

It quoted 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."

It stated that the boycott would continue until Nestlé accepted and complied with its four-point plan for saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott.

Nestlé therefore lost a whole mark under Irresponsible Marketing and a whole mark under Boycott Call.

Reference:

babymilkaction.org (2020)

In February 2020 Ethical Consumer searched Nestle’s website for information about its stance and use of GMOs.

The FAQ section of Nestle’s website, www.nestle.com, stated that it did not produce GM crops, but it did ‘sometimes’ use GM ingredients in its products. It stated:"GMO crops that have passed strict regulatory and safety approvals are as safe as conventional crops. ‘GMO ingredients’ have a potentially important role to play in increasing food production, to support sustainable agriculture and help feed a growing world population...We support the responsible use of any innovative, safe technology. We decide whether to use ingredients derived from GMOs at a local level, in response to consumer concerns.

"We support the responsible use of any innovative, safe technology. We decide whether to use ingredients derived from GMOs at a local level, in response to consumer concerns."

The company therefore lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's Controversial Technologies category.

Reference:

nestle.com (2020)

In March 2019 Ethical Consumer received a questionnaire response from Lily's Kitchen. It stated "At Lily’s Kitchen we knowingly do not use GMO ingredients in any of our foods. We’re currently working towards only working with non-GMO suppliers."

While this was considered a positive policy towards the use of GMO ingredients it was not considered to adequately address the issue of farm animals being fed on GMO animal feed. While some of Lily's Kitchen products were organic, and thereby would not contain meat from animals fed on GMO animal feed this was not the case with all products.

Ethical Consumer contacted Lily's Kitchen who stated "Due to the way our freshly prepared meat is sourced, we're not able to guarantee that our non-organic meat has been fed GM free only. The majority of our crops come from the EU rather than the US where most GM crops are imported from, so the meat that we use which has been fed a GM diet is relatively low. As we don't create human food products or use ingredients product from GMOs we don’t meet the requirement for any declaration. "

Lily's Kitchen therefore lost half a mark under Controversial Technologies.

Reference:

Questionnaire Response (8 March 2019)

In June 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Environmental Working Group’s website, which had been published in February 2016, and looked at lobbying by companies opposed to GMO labelling laws.

The report stated that “Big food, farm and biotechnology companies and trade associations working to prevent labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients reported spending $101.4 million on lobbying last year.”

The report looked at the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, a trade group that represents food manufacturers, as well as specific companies. It stated that the GMA filed disclosures reporting $10.5 million in lobbying expenditures in 2015 for the anti-labelling battle and other GMA legislative priorities. It also stated that since January 2014 the GMA had hired 34 lobbyists and spent $2.8 million on lobbying that went exclusively to advocate anti-GMO-labelling legislation.

The report also discussed the DARK Act, which had passed the House of Representatives and was being discussed in the Senate, in February 2016. The act would bar states from enacting laws to require GMO labelling and make it harder for companies to make voluntary GMO disclosures. The Act had been passed in August 2016.

The report stated that 9 out of 10 Americans supported GMO labelling laws, and some 64 other nations had imposed them.

Nestlé Purina PetCare was said to have spent $120,000 on lobbying between in 2014, and Nestlé USA $1,500,000 in 2015. Nestlé therefore lost half a mark under both Political Activities and Controversial Technologies.

Reference:

https://www.ewg.org/research/lobbying-anti-labeling-groups-tops-100m#.Wx-IjtVKjcs (25 February 2016)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Nestlé profile on the Open Secrets website. It indicated that the company had donated a total of $85,903 to both the Democrat and Republican parties in the 2018 election cycle. The company had also spent $4,132,000 on lobbying in the same period. In 2017-18, 10 out of 22 Nestle lobbyists had previously held government jobs. Nestlé lost a full mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2020 (2020)

In March 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the International Dairy Foods Association's website, www.idfa.org. Nestle USA, Inc. - HQ was listed as a member. The organisation was considered by Ethical Consumer to be a corporate lobby group which applied political pressure for laws and regulations to favour the interests of businesses over protections for consumers, workers, social welfare and the environment.

Reference:

16 October 2017

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) website, www.candyusa.com, was viewed by Ethical Consumer in January 2019. It listed Nestlé USA as a member. The organisation was considered by Ethical Consumer to be a corporate lobby group which applied political pressure for laws and regulations to favour the interests of businesses over protections for consumers, workers, social welfare and the environment.
Ethical Consumer noted that according to the website Advertising Age, in April 2014 the NCA was preparing a $2 million public relations budget to contest the idea that sugar confectionary had played a role in the American obesity crisis.

Reference:

16 October 2017

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the corporate family tree for Nestlé S.A on the corporate database D&B Hoovers. The company had numerous subsidiaries based in jurisdictions which Ethical Consumer considered to be tax havens at the time of writing. Subsidiaries included several company types which were at high risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes. High risk company types included holding companies based in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and the Bahamas.

A statement was found on the Nestle website that, "In compliance with the OECD ‘BEPS’ Actions, Nestlé prepares the Country-by-Country report (CbCR) for its entire group and provides it to the Swiss Tax authorities. Swiss Tax authorities share the Nestlé CbCR with countries that have signed agreements allowing for that exchange.
The Nestlé CbCR is therefore available to all the countries where tax authorities have agreed to the standards developed by the OECD." No public country-by-country reporting was found.

Nestlé therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely tax avoidance and lost a whole mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref (2020)

In March 2019 Ethical Consumer downloaded the Nestlé 2018 Corporate Governance Report from the company’s website www.nestle.com. The compensation table stated that Paul Bulcke, the chairman, was paid a total compensation of 3,493,908 Swiss Francs (roughly £2,647,694) in 2018. Ethical Consumer considered any annual remuneration over £1,000,000 to be excessive. Nestlé lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

corp-governance-report-2018 (6 March 2019)

Ethical Consumer searched the L'Oreal fact sheet on corporate information website in February 2020. The company had numerous subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's current list of tax havens.

For many of these Ethical Consumer was unable to verify whether the companies were serving the local population or not.

Two companies were described by Hoovers as "primarily engaged in the management of the funds of trusts and foundations organized for purposes other than religious, educational, charitable, or nonprofit research." These were considered high risk company types for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies. These were:
L'Oreal Investments B.V. (Netherlands)
Oomes B.V. (Netherlands)

An internet search using the search terms “L'Oréal tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes.

Due to the fact that L'Oreal did not have country-by-country reporting and two high risk subsidiaries in tax havens it received a worst Ethical Consumer rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref 2019 (2 January 2019)