Nestle ignores baby milk issue

In David Benady and Amanda Wilkinson’s article “Nestle acts to boost its corporate image” (MW May 13), the company appears to discuss everything except Nestle’s performance regarding the marketing of breast milk substitutes in the developing world. This has been a subject over which Save the Children (UK) has been at issue with Nestle for some years, in particular with regard to China.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million babies die every year as a result of not being breastfed. Nevertheless, Nestle, which controls 40 per cent of the baby milk market, continues to promote artificial feeding in ways that undermine breastfeeding.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes was introduced in 1981 to protect all mothers and babies from inappropriate company marketing practices. Nonetheless, evidence from some of the less developed parts of the world has consistently revealed Nestle to be systematically breaking the code, while universally claiming to market infant formula ethically and responsibly. This claim was discredited last week with the publication of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling, which upheld three complaints brought against Nestle by Baby Milk Action, a non-profit making organisation supported by Save the Children.

In recent years Save the Children (UK) has had intermittent and highly unsatisfactory dealings with Nestle. The company has shown an unwillingness, in our view, to deal fairly with our concerns. We have no axe to grind, but we do take the issue of corporate responsibility towards children seriously. We believe that of all companies that market breast milk substitutes, it is Nestle, as a market leader, which has the most significant obligations to children.

The path is straight – abide by the International Code.

Mike Aaronson

Director general

Save the Children (UK)

London SE5

This issue has been comprehensively covered in earlier editions of Marketing Week. The aim of the analysis in the May 13 issue was to highlight the range of issues afflicting Nestle’s corporate image – Editor


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