Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Nestlé’s Close Relationship to the Swiss Government

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“Nestlé S.A.’s Board of Directors today approved a new strategic direction for its Water business. The company will sharpen its focus on its iconic international brands, its leading premium mineral water brands, and invest in differentiated healthy hydration, such as functional water products.(…) At the same time, the Board concluded that its regional spring water brands, purified water business and beverage delivery service at its Nestlé Waters North America unit lie outside this focus. As a result, the company has decided to explore strategic options, including a potential sale, for the majority of the Nestlé Waters business in North America (U.S. and Canada), excluding its International brands. This review is expected to be completed by early-2021.”

However, it seems that there is much more to this than just a business decision: rather it is a maneuver to protect the close relationship between Nestlé and the Swiss Government from public awareness.

This strategy was used previously by Nestlé in Brazil in 2018 when Nestlé announced the sale of all its bottled water brands in Brazil to a Brazilian company. For more than 15 years Brazilian citizens’ movements in the region of Circuito das Águas in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, had been fighting Nestlé’s water taking and bottling water facility in the city of São Lourenço. In 2006 the Citizens Movement had its first significant victory: Nestlé had to stop the production of “Pure Life” bottled water in São Lourenço. This victory was only possible due to the fact that the citizens’ movement brought their fight to Switzerland where several NGOs gave their support to their campaign. Articles about Nestlé in São Lourenço appeared in the Swiss French, Italian and German press, and the Swiss Italian TV did a short documentary on São Lourenço. This proved to be a decisive factor in the citizens fight against the giant Swiss corporation: the Swiss campaign was too damaging to Nestlé’s image in Switzerland.

In 2018 the World Water Forum took place in Brasilia, capital of Brazil. The WWF is the most important international event on the calendar of private corporations engaged in water privatization. In 2018 for the first time the WWF had the massive sponsorship of the bottled water sector: Coca-Cola, Nestlé and AB InBEV. The ‘message’ of the 2018 WWF to Brazil was: we want your water. Nestlé announced it would sell its Brazilian bottled water brands just a few months after this forum of multi-national companies. Nestle´s decision to sell the brands of water it bottles in Brazil made no sense unless something else was intended.  (more...)


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