Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Welcome to Mr Paul Bulcke - Nestle's new Chief Executive

Tomorrow Nestlé's Chief Executive Designate, Mr. Paul Bulcke, is due to have his appointment confirmed by the shareholder meeting in Switzerland.

We have written to Mr. Bulcke asking him to make a statement to shareholders prior to the vote about his position on the marketing of baby foods. Unlike his predecessor and current Chairman, Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, will Mr. Bulcke accept the validity of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions and agree to bring Nestlé policies and practices into line? Those are the first two steps for ultimately ending the Nestlé boycott. Nestlé's Global Public Affairs Manager, Dr. Gayle Crozier Willi, stated last year that Nestlé is 'widely boycotted', so shareholders will presumably be interested to know if this constraint on their business can be lifted. I will let you know what happens.

More importantly, Nestlé compliance with the Code and Resolutions will make a real difference to infants. According to 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. These facts are not in dispute."

Whether Mr. Bulcke will be appointed is not open to question. It is a foregone conclusion that the board will get their way as even when there was a shareholder rebellion over the current Chief Executive, Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, also being made Chairman it was impossible to muster enough votes. Indeed, it is statistically impossible to carry a vote on some issues because Nestlé is so obstructive when it comes to registering shares, as I have mentioned before. See:

Should any journalists be looking for a quote, here is one from me.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"Mr. Bulcke's predecessor rejected the four-point plan aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott and embarked on a strategy of denials and deception to try to divert criticism, creating quite a few public-relations disasters in the process. Whether Mr. Bulcke can act any differently with his predecessor as Chairman remains to be seen, but I sincerely hope that he wishes to do so. Nestlé's aggressive marketing of baby foods in breach of international standards contributes to the needless death and suffering of babies around the world."

Images with examples of Nestlé malpractice can be found at:

For an insight into what happens at the shareholder meetings see:

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