Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The gap between Nestle's PR and reality is immense.

Nestlé has just launched a new PR booklet called 'Creating Shared Value'. It did so at a join meeting yesterday with the UN Global Compact in New York.

The Global Compact was set up by Kofi Anna when he was Secretary General of the United Nations as an alternative to regulating corporations. The Compact is, in fact, a toothless PR endorsement for companies who have to do nothing other than proclaim their support for its 10 principles. Nestlé has been more active than some in submitting reports proclaiming how well it is doing. These do not have to conform to any standard, are not audited and the Global Compact does not investigate complaints of breaches (though it will investigate whether a company brings the Global Compact brand into disrepute - which we believe Nestlé does). I write about better alternatives in the new book 'Global obligations for the right to food'. See:

There is probably some truth in some of the things Nestlé presents in its report, but when it comes to various aspects of Nestlé business practices with which I am familiar I see that the gap between what Nestlé says it does and what it really does is immense, particularly in those areas where it is being criticised.

I address some of these issues in our press release which you can find at:

Nestlé's new report presents it as respecting the marketing requirements for baby foods even citing audits, when at the self-same time Nestlé is publicly defending breaches such as distributing promotional fliers for Lactogen to mothers in Bangladesh and branding babies from birth in China. There are a host of other issues aside from baby food. Quotes from other campaigns are coming in and being added to the press release.

If you have been on the receiving end of Nestlé business practices or involved in trying to persuade it to respect human rights and the environment then you particularly appreciate Mr. Brabeck's comments on the launch of the report:

"Creating shared value means thinking long term while at the same time delivering strong annual results," he said.

"This enables us to deliver five to six per cent organic growth while at the same time improving our environmental and social performance, thereby having a positive impact on millions of people across the world."

Perhaps those on the winning side of Nestlé's thirst for growth and profits do number so highly, but even if so, that does not justify the well-documented practices of aggressively marketing baby foods, trade union busting, failing to act on child slavery in its cocoa supply chain, depleting water resources and the rest.

As Franklin Fredrick, who you can see here, said today: "We had to battle for 10 years to stop Nestlé breaking federal laws in Brazil as its water extraction was destroying the historic water park in São Lourenço. We didn't experience much in the way of 'shared value' from Nestle. It put its own profits before our community."

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