In October 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the website for the indigenous rights organisation Lakota People's Law Project, which, under the 'More you can do' section after clicking on one of its major actions or campaigns, called for a boycott of Nestlé and all its products.

It stated, "Nestle makes enormous profits each year and faces no legal accountability for stealing water. Now coffee empire Starbucks has struck a multibillion dollar deal with Nestle. We ask you to join the movement to #BoycottStarbucks, #BoycottNestle, and boycott all of their products. Nestle profits from water theft, habitat destruction, child slavery, & plastic pollution – don't support them!"

The company lost a full mark under Boycott Call.

Reference:

nestle.com (2020)

Ethical Consumer visited the Baby Milk Action website in October 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 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)

Baby Milk Action group website, www.babymilkaction.org, viewed by Ethical Consumer in January 2019 had added Rachel's Dairy to its Nestlé boycott list due to the fact that the company was part owned (40%) by Nestlé. Baby Milk Action website states that 'Nestlé is the target of a boycott because it contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants around the world by aggressively marketing baby foods in breach of international marketing standards'.

Reference:

www.babymilkaction.org (19 April 2018)

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

The Ask Nestle section of Nestle’s website, www.nestle.com, stated that it did not grow GM crops, but it did ‘sometimes’ use GM ingredients in its products. It stated:"Regulatory agencies around the world including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have concluded that authorized GM crops and food ingredients derived from them are safe for human consumption."

"We support the responsible use of any innovative, safe technology. We decide whether to use ingredients derived from GMOs at a local level, based on consumer expectations and local regulations.

We believe ‘GMO ingredients’ have a potentially important role to play in increasing food production, to support sustainable agriculture and help feed a growing world population."

The company 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 October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Nestlé profile on the Open Secrets website. It indicated that the company had donated a total of $136,704 to both the Democrat and Republican parties in the 2020 election cycle. The company had also spent $1,281,000 in 2019 on lobbying. In 2019, 3 out of 13 Nestle lobbyists had previously held government jobs. Nestlé lost a full mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2020 (2020)

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) website was viewed by Ethical Consumer in October 2020. 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.

The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

16 October 2017

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the International Dairy Foods Association's website, www.idfa.org. Nestle USA, Inc. 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

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded the Nestlé 2019 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 3 498 260 Swiss Francs (roughly £2941249) in 2019. Ethical Consumer considered any annual remuneration over £1,000,000 to be excessive. Nestlé lost half a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

nestle.com (2020)

French authorities have fined the country's top yogurt makers €193m (£136m) for engaging in a price-fixing cartel for six years.

The BBC reported that 11 firms - representing 90% of France's yogurt makers - were involved in setting the price of supermarket own-brand yoghurt and dairy products.

According to the authorities, yoghurt executives used dedicated secret mobile phones to come together for clandestine meetings at hotels, each time varying the meeting places for the sake of discretion.
Lactalis Nestlé, a jointly owned company between Nestlé and Lactalis which produces well known consumer brands in the UK such as Ski and Munch Bunch, received the largest penalty of €56.1m.
The company said in a statement that it obeyed all laws and that the fines "overestimate in an obvious way the gravity of what happened, and their impact on the economy".

Reference:

France fines yogurt cartel 193m euros for price-fixing (13 March 2015)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer found a document on the L'Oreal website dated 9th February 2018 and entitled "Publication of information relating to the remuneration of the Chairman and CEO of L'Oréal, in accordance with the AFEP-MEDEF code on corporate governance for listed companies"

This document stated that the company had agreed to pay CEO Jean-Paul Agon a fixed salary of 2,200,000 euros in 2018. Other bonuses and stock options would be in addition to this amount. Ethical Consumer deemed any annual compensation over £1million to be excessive.

Reference:

https://www.loreal-finance.com/ (20 October 2020)

In October 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, Bermuda 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."
"We do not use hybrid instruments and entities that result in tax avoidance, double deduction or double no taxation."
However, no public country-by-country reporting was found, nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in any tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes, nor did the company provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and how it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

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

Reference:

nestle.com (2020)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the L'Oreal family tree on corporate information website Hoovers. 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. A L’Oréal UK Tax Strategy dated December 2019 was found but did not appear to apply to the company's global operations, and did not refer to tax avoidance.

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 (2020)