Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Planning for Nestle free week - 4 October 2008

Nestlé-Free Week will take place around the 4 October 2008.

This marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the current boycott by Action for Corporate Accountability in the United States over the companies aggressive marketing of baby foods. Babies who are not breastfed are more likely to become sick and, in conditions of poverty, to die.

According to UNICEF: "Improved breastfeeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.5 million children a year."

Nestlé failed to live up to an agreement reached in 1984 which ended an earlier boycott. Nestlé had promised to abide by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a result of the first boycott.

Baby Milk Action launched the boycott in the UK in 1989, but will also be marking the 20th anniversary in the first week of October 2008. Groups in 20 countries have launched boycott and it has supporters in many other countries. An independent survey in 2005 found Nestlé to be one of the four most boycotted companies on the planet, something Nestlé finally admitted in 2007. See:

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

"The boycott has forced some important policy changes on Nestlé and we are able to stop specific cases of aggressive baby milk marketing thanks to public pressure, but the latest monitoring shows that Nestlé still thinks it can get away with breaking the World Health Assembly rules in many countries. In parallel to the boycott we have had a lot of success in bringing the Assembly measures into national laws and where these are enforced malpractice is stopped, showing companies can comply when compelled to do so. The boycott keeps this issue in the public eye and the pressure on Nestlé, the worst of the baby food companies."

Monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) profiles the main baby food companies. See:

Nestlé has consistently been found to be the worst of the baby food companies. Boycott coordinators have put a four-point plan to Nestlé aimed at saving infant lives and ultimately ending the boycott. See:

Danone, which recently bought the NUMICO companies (Nutricia, Milupa and Cow and Gate) is becoming an increasing concern as it tries to compete with Nestlé in Asian markets. Danone told Baby Milk Action earlier this year that it is conducting a 'root and branch review' of NUMICO operations since the takeover and the situation is being monitored to see whether changes will be made without consumer pressure.

People interested in planning for local action can visit Baby Milk Action's websitew for support and resources. See:

The joint statement from Nestlé and the International Nestlé Boycott Committee on the end of the first boycott on 4 October 1984 can be downloaded from:

Coverage of the relaunch of the boycott on 4 October 1988 in the United States can be found in contemporary reports in the New Internationalist and the New York Times.

Note the US group included American Home Products (now part of Wyeth) in its boycott call. The boycott internationally has focused on Nestlé as global monitoring finds it to be the worst of the companies.

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