Nestle: the world’s most corrupt corporation

Cover from the booklet The Baby Killers, published by the War On Want organization to raise awareness about the damaged caused by baby formula companies.

Courtesy of the War On Want Organization

Cover from the booklet “The Baby Killers”, published by the War On Want organization to raise awareness about the damaged caused by baby formula companies.

With unethical business practices such as taking clean drinking water in areas that sorely need it, participating in human trafficking and child labor, and exploiting uneducated mothers in third world countries, Nestle is quite possibly one of the world’s most corrupt corporations.

Nestle is the world’s largest food and drink corporation. The company was established in 1886 when Henri Nestle developed a groundbreaking baby food formula. It later merged with an Anglo-Swiss condensed milk business and formed what is now known as the Nestle Group. They began producing a wide variety of products and became a globally involved business.

As the company expanded, so did their money-hungry stomachs. According to the National Public Radio, Nestle has been pumping out 200 gallons worth of freshwater out of Michigan-water that the people of Flint desperately need. The Flint Michigan crisis has killed 12 people and hospitalized 87. Children are losing their hair, developing skin lesions, and going blind just from bathing. The community has no access to fresh water because Governor Rick Snyder switched the city’s water supply from one of Michigan’s most pristine water sources to the noxious and harmful Flint River in an attempt to save money. While the citizens of Flint live in a constant state of disarray, worrying about how to survive, Nestle has been making a profit.

Not only does Nestle take water from a city in a full-blown water crisis, but they also sell it to third world countries who don’t have access to clean drinking water, for astronomical prices. According to Nestle Pure life, they sell their water for 2 dollars a bottle. To Americans that may seem like no big deal, but in a third world country where people only make a few cents a day, it’s everything. Nestle persuaded the World’s Water Council to change drinking water to a need rather than a right. If water were a right, then it would have to be supplied freely, but since it’s a need, water companies can sell it for as much as they want and make an enormous profit.

One of Nestle’s primary sources of income is their chocolate. The Cocoa industry is known for its unethical practices in child labor and human tracking. Nestle is no exception to the horrors of this industry. In 2005 the International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against Nestle and other similar companies. Allegedly, three Malian Children were trafficked to Côte d’Ivoire and forced to work on a cocoa plantation with many other trafficked children. The case went on for many years; the courts argued over whether or not corporations should be held liable for international law violations. In 2010, the US district court determined that corporations should not be held accountable, which has since been appealed, and Nestle was not held responsible for the abuse and suffering of these children. The Fair Labor Association reported that Nestle was fully aware of the child labor and did little to stop it.

Along with water, Nestle sells baby formula. Buying up companies such as Gerber and Pfizer makes the cooperation control nearly the entire world’s production of baby formula. With aggressive marketing tactics to uneducated mothers and giving out free samples of their product, Nestle has made families reliant on their baby formula.
The company heavily advertises its formula to be the nearest thing to breastfeeding. They suggest that mothers start weaning their baby off of breastmilk at six months, claiming that it can make the baby anemic if not done. The World Health Organization advises otherwise, recommending that the mother solely breastfeeds for six months and then continue breastfeeding combined with solid foods for up to two years or however long the baby desires. Most women in third world countries lack the education to know that the information Nestle advertises is false, and they fall into this trap.

Not only does the cooperation market false information to create a dependency on their formula, but according to a report by the International Baby Food Action Network (or IBFAN), Nestle provides hospitals with free baby formula for a week. Sounds charitable, right? However, looking more in-depth into the implications of this, one can see that it’s nothing but a malevolent marketing strategy. When a mother stops breastfeeding, it takes a few days to a week for her milk to dry up and the hormones to go back to normal. So by the time the formula runs out, so does a mother’s milk, and they have no choice but to buy more formula.

As stated previously, Nestle dominates the water market and marks up their prices immensely. This creates a massive issue for mothers in these third world countries. The baby formula has to mix with water. Nestle has two products that are reliant on one another, which creates a horrendous situation. Many families cannot afford both the formal and clean drinking water because most make only a few cents a day. Not wanting their baby to die, people are left with no other choice, but to mix the formula with polluted water.

Furthermore, families try to make the formula last as long as possible and dilute it. Babies are essentially drinking unsanitary water with a pinch of nutrition. As a result of this, many of these countries’ infant and mortality rates have gone up.

Nestles is the classic case of perception versus reality. Though they seek to put out a polished image, one look into their business practices reveals their filthy and disgusting underside.