I wrote yesterday about reports of Nestlé buying milk from Grace Mugabe, wife of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The Mugabe's are on a list of government people facing sanctions over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
In the report on the BBC website Nestlé defends buying the milk, stating:
"Had Nestle decided to close down its operations in Zimbabwe, the company would have triggered further food shortages and hundreds of job losses among its employees and milk suppliers in an already very difficult situation."
The threat sounds strangely familiar. In 1998 Zimbabwe was introducing legislation controlling the marketing of baby foods. Nestlé called a meeting of Parliamentarians and told them that if the law went ahead it would pull out of Zimbabwe. Nestlé said: "This would result in job losses for about 200 people and an extremely negative economic impact on local farmers who supply us with milk, wheat, maize and sugar."
The Minister of Health judged that Nestlé was making an 'idle threat' as Nestlé would not pull out of the country - it wasn't there to create jobs, but to make money. Zimbabwe went ahead with legislation to protect its babies. Nestlé did not pull out of Zimbabwe. Nesté's threat was picked up by Mark Thomas in one of his investigations into Nestlé. See:
So when it suits Nestlé to threaten people with hardship it has no qualms. When it suits it to express sympathy for their plight, then it will do so to defend sanction busting! The common factor? Nestlé profit.
Nice one, Nestlé!
We know you.