When you walk into a grocery store, you have hundreds of options of what you want to put your money towards. There are many different brands of the same product to choose from, but your money is most likely still going to the same place. There is a very small amount of companies that dominate the food and beverage market. Only 10 companies control almost every large food and beverage brand in the world, and Nestle happens to be one of them.
These companies not only have a large effect on the market, they have a large effect on the environment as well.
Nestle is currently the largest food company in the world, grossing a whopping $87 billion in 2015.Nestle is based in switzerland, and is quite literally at the top of the food chain. They sell baby food, dog treats, and anything in between. Nestle was established as a brand after the founder Henri Nestle developed a breakthrough infant formula. The company then merged with its biggest competition (Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company) in 1905.
At this time they had more than 20 factories open, and started to establish overseas sales. Around this time they also expanded their range of products, which included adding milk chocolate to their sales. As years passed, Nestle kept growing and becoming a more successful. As World War I began, war broke out across Europe. Things started to become difficult for the company as the demand for condensed milk grew larger and larger but supplies plummeted. Because of this Nestle decided to shift their focus to Australia and The United States, where new factories were opened.
This shift proved successful and due to it, production was doubled by the end of the war. Over the next 30 years the Nestle went through many ups and downs, one of its hardest hits was the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Around this time Nestle also acquired Switzerland’s oldest chocolate company Peter-Cailler-Kholer. Nestle continued to thrive as a company by developing more sought after products like Nescaf? (instant coffee), Nestea (tea) and Nesquik (chocolate malt mix). These products became instant successes and quickly turned into the company’s best sellers. Around this time Nestle started buying frozen food firms.They then diversified and added pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to their already vast selection of food and drinks. Nestle was thriving and steadily expanding, but they became stuck at a crossroads in 1977 when a boycott was called on them for their “aggressive” marketing of baby formula. “The boycott led to the World Health Assembly adopting the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which Nestl? signed on to in 1984, bringing an end to the boycott.” (Mowbray) After the boycott came to an end, Nestle became responsible for one of the biggest corporate takeovers ever after buying out the Carnation Company for $3 billion They continued to thrive as a business, but it was not until the mid 1980’s when the company decided to focus on health and nutrition as something that could put them on top. They started associating with more health conscious brands, and thus started to change their image. Then in 2006, Nestle started looking into ways that they could become more sustainable. They strengthened their focus on plans to develop sustainable supply chains in cocoa and coffee. At this point in time they now have 447 factories in 189 different countries.
Now in 2019, Nestle makes it very clear what their mission is. They state that they strive for zero environmental impact in their day to day operations. “Our ambition is to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations and have set clear commitments to use sustainably managed and renewable resources, operate more efficiently, achieve zero waste for disposal and improve water management.” (Nestle).
They make it very known that they believe that water security is a global issue, and that they are working to improve water efficiency in their operations. They claim to work with a large range of corporations to improve access to clean water, and ensure correct sanitation. ” In 2018 we launched our Caring for Water global initiative to ensure we are a responsible and committed steward of water resources” (Nestle). The state that this initiative helps them play an important role in reaching their goal of no environmental impact. They have also achieved a score of 100/100 in the Water-Related risks section of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which is a company that follows the performance of companies in terms of environmental, economic, and social criteria.
When it comes to the environment, Nestle has taken many steps to do what they can to reduce their footprint on the earth. To protect forests they have partnered with corporations like The Forest Trust, and Airbus to create a satellite-based service that monitors their global palm oil supply chains. Nestle has later plans to expand this initiative to cover many more of their other global supply chains as well. They also have big plans to make all of their packaging either 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025, to reduce stress caused by unsustainable substances on the ocean.
Nestle also stated that they are working to reduce their waste, and claim that 15% of their 447 factories are waste free. These factories use to send 52 tons of food and packaging waste to a landfill, now the food waste is converted to animal feed, and the packaging is sent to a private recycling contractor. Their volume of waste for disposal has gone down by 91.6% since 2008 according to their website. This large drop in waste may also be contributed to an initiative they have launched that attempts to redistributes up to two million meals to charitable organizations across the United Kingdom.
Nestle has been attacked many times over the years it has been around. They are always taking from the less fortunate and leaving them with less. The first problem I am going to talk about with the company is their baby formula. The first problem is that “Most of the groups they were targeting – especially in Africa – didn’t have access to clean water” (Andrei) so when they made the baby formula with the water available to them it was making their kids sick. Since these people were less fortunate areas they were not told about these problems causing a lot of deaths. What makes this very interesting is that Nestle knew about these problems but chose to ignore them because they were making money.
This might not connect well to sustainability but it sets up an interesting topic for Nestle. They try to act innocent and in the following paragraphs there will be a comparison between what Nestle says and what the public says. Can this company be trusted to be sustainable when they won’t even take care of the less fortunate.
One thing in all of the research I have done about Nestle that never shows up is how are they sustainable with all the plastic they use. This is especially prevalent with the water that they use since all of the bottles are plastic and are not good for the environment. They have focused on making their packaging more sustainable by saying they are “making 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 ” (Nestle) this is good but it does not matter since they are doing so much other harm. It also can be countered very quickly since none of their bottles they use are recyclable. They have had protest to end their single use bottles that end up in the ocean.
They use a lot of materials that are not sustainable. This led Nestle to be “named one of the worst three plastic polluters following 239 cleanups and brand audits in 42 countries last October” (Wheeler) this is a sad achievement. This is also very interesting since the company makes this hard to find. They try very hard to paint their company as being very good for the environment. It will be hard for this monster of a company to change their ways since they do have so many factories that need to change and they do not want to slow down production. At the Nestle US headquarters created a monster made from their garbage and then left it there for them to pick up. This is good for the company because it does show them that some people know how they are for the environment. It also seems that as humans we are getting too reliant on them for living. As adults the biggest need is water and food. As kids the biggest need is formula since they need a lot of nutrients and it is interesting how they have taken control of both.
Nestle has many videos on youtube showing how they are sustainable and for the people. This same enthusiasm has been contradicted from the former CEO of Nestle. The former CEO Brabeck-Letmathe has once said “the idea that water is a human right “extreme.””(Emery). This statement that was made by him seems to be very ignorant. Not only that but Nestle makes about 7.7 billion a year by selling bottled water. Their profit margins they get selling this water is very crazy. This also is not shocking because as I said in previous examples Nestle has been caught doing some very shady things towards the people they claim to be helping.
What they have done with water is that in places that need the water more they raise the prices of water since it is a bigger need. This is one of their ways to increase profits and hold power over the people.
In Michigan they produce about $343 million dollars from the well that they rent there. The rent for that well is only about $200 dollars a year. This profit margin that they get here is insane and is how they get so much money. Not only that but the harm that they are doing to the land there is going to be irreparable oneday. There have been scientists that have said they are doing major harm to the land. Then Nestle hires there own scientists that claim otherwise are the ones who are listened to more. It is a very suspicious thing that they have going on there. Not only that but having a former CEO talk about water like it’s not a right for humans can be concerning. This company is not looking to be sustainable. They are in the moment and trying to make money fast. This is the problem when big companies get ahold of land that they can abuse for profits. This is not the first or last time Nestle will abuse a state. They have abused many other states before.
Not only have they abused the water in the United States but they have done the same thing in Africa. They take control of the water from the poor and then do not even give them an opportunity to get any of it. This is a major problem in Ghana that needs to be solved. It is messed up for a company to take land from the poor and then not even give them a share of the water that they make clean and ready to drink. A change will need to happen at the top before the company will notice any changes. This company is ran like the major business it is and has not given back to those it takes from.
As I have shown Nestle has done a lot to show that they are not a bad company and try to act like the good guys. However in this case I will be showing another way they try and manipulate their customers. In the United States we have all heard of the Flint Michigan water crisis. The problem going on in Michigan was that they did not have good clean water for a long time, and were getting poisoned by their own state. Well Nestle saw this as an opportunity to make a commercial about them helping out Michigan. This was a very good move for Nestle because not only are they doing good for the community but it shows that they are giving to those in need. There is only one problem with the video. Nestle forgets to point out the fact that the water they are giving to Flint Michigan for free was really water taken from them. Nestle has had a huge impact in Michigan and has taken a lot of water from there over the years. In the Nestle ad they say, “they plan on giving about 3.2 million bottle of water to the City of Flint” (“Bottled Water Donations to Flint, Michigan”). This would be a lot of water but considering the fact that they extract about “576,000 gallons of water each day from the White Pine Springs well in the Great Lakes” (Chappell) and this water is basically taken for free. This ad seems to be a scam and not only this but they seem to notice this as well. On all of their videos they have promoting something they always have comments on. For this video specifically they did not allow comments. I see this being a way to avoid hate from the people for what they are basically doing which is trying to profit more from a place they already abuse.
Overall we see how Nestle tries to act like the good guys. Though there are lots of papers proving otherwise and showing how they are a manipulative company that holds a lot of power. Not only that but they hold this power over the people. This was shown by the way the CEO of the company talked about the rights of water. Not only this but they have even taken advantage of people in poor countries. It seems that they do not care and even though they act sustainable they really are not. One day this will catch up to this company who is number one is selling water around the world.