Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Nestlé offensive in Fair Trade fortnight

Fair Trade fortnight has just begun.

Last year I was interviewed around this time for a BBC Money Programme special on Fair Trade and the controversy over Nestlé being awarded a Fairtrade mark for its Partners' Blend brand of coffee. This was an opportunity to raise the boycott and its baby food marketing malpractice.

From our experience we were also able to predict how Nestlé would use the award to try to undermine the boycott and generally divert attention of its shameful business practices.

So it proved, with a mass media advertising campaign in which the company used its one and only Fair Trade product to suggest it was taking the initiative on improving the lives of coffee farmers. Yet only 0.1% of farmers dependent on Nestlé were involved in the product and the rest suffer downward pressure on prices because of the aggressive trading practices of Nestlé and the rest of the oligarchy of coffee processors.

For our analysis of the situation, comments from other organisations and our monitoring of how Nestlé has used the Fair Trade mark in its PR campaigns, see the Your Questions Answered entry on our website at

It is also worth remembering that Nestlé is in court in the US over child slavery in its cocoa supply chain. Nestlé has the possibility of buying cocoa through the Fair Trade system in Ivory Coast, but refuses to do so, meaning certified farms are having to sell on the open market, where Nestlé picks up the cocoa at a lower price. You can hear a sound bite and full interview with Bama Athreya of the International Labor Rights Fund at:

Sure enough Nestlé is on the offensive again this year. And this is your opportunity to expose Nestlé baby food marketing malpractice and promote the boycott, while also supporting genuine Fair Trade companies.

We have a special version of our 'Ten Facts' leaflet which includes the Fair Trade issue. This is easy to photocopy and can be downloaded by clicking

Look out for opportunities to contact the media, too. I have just sent an email to the news desk of the Saga radio station in response to it teaming up with Nestlé.

You can send your own message, via this site:

This is what I said:

How absurd that you have teamed up with Nestlé to promote Fair Trade Fortnight. This is the most boycotted company in the UK over its unethical baby milk marketing and this is an attempt by Nestlé to undermine the boycott. This is a company that has just one product out of 8,500 that is Fair Trade. It's Partners' Blend coffee involves just 0.1% of the coffee farmers dependent on Nestlé - the rest see their incomes cut as Nestlé and the oligarch of coffee processors force prices down. Nestlé is in court in the US over child slavery in its cocoa supply chain - its defence is that child slavery is not a crime against humanity so it should not be taken to court. Find out more on the Baby Milk Action website http://www.babymilkaction.org/ and support genuine Fair Trade companies, not those who are trying to divert attention from their shameful business practices.

Please keep Baby Milk Action informed of any other Nestlé PR initiatives you come across, using our contact form.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Surely Nestle have opened themselves up to some hard questions and bad publicity by going for a "token" FairTrade product. By acknowledging the principle of the FairTrade certification scheme, they have admitted that the remaining 99.9% or whatever of their products are UNfairly traded.It might also be interesting to discover what they add to the price/profit of their FairTrade line over and above the truly minimal extra the supplier's premium costs.