Whenever there is a discussion about the most corrupt and unethical corporations in the world, Nestlé always tops the list. Nestlé is one of the biggest companies in the world, with hundreds of products being sold all around the globe. It is no surprise that Nestlé dominates the processed and packaged food market.
Nestlé has around 339,000 people working for it in its 344 factories in 188 countries. But why is a company with such a huge influence and market called evil and unethical? Let’s start with its history. Began its journey in Switzerland in 1867 and was founded by Henry Nestle. He wanted to start his own line of milk-based baby formula for babies who were unable to receive breast milk due to a variety of factors.
Even if the formula is only dried milk, vegetable oils, and sugars, the key factor is the company's marketing, which has led people to feel that the formula is essential for their babies' growth and wellness and that breast milk is insufficient. You can see how misguided this is because most medical experts agree that breast milk, and only breast milk, is the greatest nourishment for infants.
The company is also facing numerous lawsuits for other frauds and unethical deeds it has committed. Despite this, the company continues to reign supreme, raking in billions of dollars every day. In this article, we will be discussing the reasons why Nestlé is the most hated corporation in the world.
- Nestlé Infant Formula Scandal
- Nestlé's Packaged Water
- Nestlé's Use of Child Labours
- Nestlé's Factory Waste Polluting The Environment
- Health Concerns
- Price Fixing
- Promoting Unhealthy Foods and Deceptive Labeling
- Controversy Surrounding Maggi
Nestlé Infant Formula Scandal
Nestlé controls approximately 2000 brands around the world, with its baby formula being the most popular. However, the company's product has a dreadful track record.
The company expanded its baby formula market in the 1970s and began advertising its baby formula as superior to breast milk, attempting to manipulate customers by spreading the narrative that its formula is beneficial for infants and provides all of the necessary nutrients that breast milk cannot. They even bribed medical specialists to testify on their behalf. This is so ethically terrible that no one can dispute it.
The ad campaigns encourage mothers to replace breast milk with baby formula. The most horrible thing Nestlé did was hire "saleswomen" in developing regions of Asia and Africa and send them to give medical advice to mothers and hand them free samples of the baby formula.
Under-educated mothers of underdeveloped countries believed that women were dressed as nurses. The free samples were weighed and packaged strategically to last just up to the day when the mothers were fully dependent on the formula and stopped lactating themselves.
The company’s horrible PR stunt led to thousands of infant deaths as the mothers were swapping Nestlé's baby formula for breast milk. This left the children deficient in the necessary nutrients that breast milk provides.
The worst impact was in the underdeveloped regions of the world, where mothers were diluting the formula with more water to save money and were unknowingly starving the children. Breast milk provides all the elements vital for the development of the baby and its immune system. With a lack of natural milk, the babies from underdeveloped regions with no access to clean water suffered from many diseases and died.
It resulted in thousands of deaths, and the formula was even named ‘Baby Killer’ by the media. When the situation got worse and people started getting mad about this and protesting, the World Health Organisation, in 1981, passed an International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, condemning the unethical practices. But the damage was done. The company, often criticized as "Nestle is evil," tried to clear their name and started mentioning in their advertisements that breast milk cannot be replaced.
Even though the company is trying their best to keep its baby formula’s image squeaky clean after the big "Baby Killer" blunder by promoting ads encouraging mothers and talking about the benefits of natural milk, they are still pushing the baby formula and bribing health workers in countries with lenient laws and still getting away with it.
Nestlé's Packaged Water
Nestlé is also one of the leading producers of packaged water bottles. The bottles are packed with single-use plastic, leading to pollution of the environment and killing millions of sea creatures. According to several reports, during beach cleanings, most of the plastic bottles collected are Nestlé brands, which proves that Nestlé is one of the major contributors to water and land pollution. And it's not just the plastic bottles that harm the environment; the water the plastic bottles harms the environment equally, if not more.
No matter what fancy pictures of springs, lakes, and mountains the labels have, almost all the water in the packaged bottles of the Nestlé evil company is from the ground. Nestlé's evil company is blamed for exploiting the groundwater of the areas where the public needs it the most and selling it for their profit.
It is clearly unethical and dangerous for the environment. The company is also guilty of taking water sources from countries where people are forced to drink dirty water as Nestlé acquires clean water sources for their bottled water plants.
In 2013, the corporation began diverting abundant clean water from Pakistani locals and using it for their factories, leaving the population with no other choice except to drink sewage and sludge water. Not just in Pakistan; the evil corporation is doing the same thing in numerous undeveloped countries with abundant natural resources that Nestlé can readily exploit due to tax regulations.
Nestlé's Use of Child Labours
Nestlé sells a wide range of chocolate goods made with cocoa obtained through forced and trafficked child labour. During the 2000s, the company, along with several other chocolate companies, was accused of using child labour to produce cocoa for their chocolates. Nestlé claimed to get rid of this problem and create ethically correct products by the year 2005. But it has not done much regarding the issue.
The company claims that most of the unpaid child labour involved in chocolate production is done by children working on their parents' farms. Because the farmers cannot afford school and need all the working hands possible to afford food, shelter, and other necessities, the reasoning is absurd because Nestlé is the one who pays them. Thus, they should do something to help the farmers who work for them. They should offer them assistance and raise the amount of money they pay to the farmers.
They tried to improve their image by including 'fair trade' marks on their labels to showcase that the chocolate bars are made with ethically sourced cocoa, but it didn’t solve the main problem, which was illegal child labour. They still have farms and plants where forced child labour is taking place, but they haven’t done much about it and do not provide any proof that the products sold are ethically made.
Nestlé's Factory Waste Polluting The Environment
As discussed earlier, the company’s plastic water bottles are the major culprits of water and land pollution. The single-use plastic is the main reason for littering and water pollution. The company has claimed to replace all their single-use plastic bottles with recyclable ones. But there is no progress in that department yet.
The plastic bottles are damaging the environment, and the waste generated by the company's factories is causing irreversible damage to the environment and marine life. In 2020, a Nestlé milk powder plant in France released its biological waste in the local water bodies, killing around three metric tons of fish. And even after making many colossal promises and claims for reducing plastic waste and use, the company has increased its share of reusable, recyclable plastic by only 1%.
According to the latest reports from the Ellen McArthur Foundation, the company has done nothing, made zero progress in the environmentally safe sector and has not addressed the waste they are generating at all.
In July 2009, the FDA and CDC issued a cautionary statement urging consumers to avoid Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to an E. coli outbreak affecting over 50 individuals across 30 states. This contamination resulted in hospitalizations and tragically claimed one life. Nestle responded by expressing grave concern, acknowledging their product's implication in the illness and fatality, and subsequently implementing more rigorous testing and inspection procedures for raw materials and finished goods to meet higher quality standards.
In a larger-scale crisis in 2008, Nestle faced the Chinese Milk Scandal, where their products were linked to six infant deaths and numerous hospitalizations due to melamine contamination. Despite Nestle's denial, the Taiwanese government detected traces of melamine in their products, prompting Nestle to dispatch specialists from Switzerland to enhance chemical testing at five Chinese plants. The incident became a major global food safety concern, with China reporting over 300,000 victims, resulting in severe legal consequences, including executions and life sentences for those implicated.
In both Canada and Germany, Nestlé, along with Hershey and Mars in Canada and Nestlé alongside five other companies in Germany, faced investigations that raised concerns about their business practices. In Canada, the Competition Bureau scrutinized allegations of price fixing, leading to office raids and subsequent class-action lawsuits, resulting in a $9 million settlement. Despite the settlement, none of the companies admitted liability, and the former president and CEO of Nestlé Canada now faces criminal charges related to the case.
Simultaneously, in Germany in 2008, Nestlé, known for its unethical practices, along with Mars and five other companies, underwent a parallel price-fixing investigation. This inquiry was prompted by substantial, nearly simultaneous price hikes, up to 25%, in the chocolate and confectionery market. German police conducted office raids during the probe, and the companies justified the price increases by citing rising raw material costs. These incidents not only added to the regulatory challenges faced by the companies but also stirred international concerns about the transparency of the industry's pricing practices.
Promoting Unhealthy Foods and Deceptive Labeling
Nestle, a company that has positioned itself as a leading health and wellness company, has faced criticism for promoting unhealthy food. A report by the UK Consumers Association revealed that seven out of the top fifteen high-sugar, fat, and salt breakfast cereals were Nestle products. Nestle has been accused of targeting children with their marketing practices.
In an interview, Nestle's chairman, Mr Brabeck, defended his breakfast choice of a dark chocolate tablet as a balanced start to his day. However, this attitude further fueled the perception that Nestle was not prioritizing healthier alternatives in its product offerings.
In addition to concerns about unhealthy food, Nestle faced accusations of deceptive practices in Colombia in 2002. The company was ordered by the police to decommission 320 tons of imported powdered milk because of false relabeling, which included a different local brand and altered production dates. This raised ethical and legal issues and underscored potential health risks for consumers.
Controversy Surrounding Maggi
In 2015, revelations emerged in India that Nestlé's popular noodles brand, Maggi, contained elevated levels of lead and MSG beyond the legal limits. This discovery prompted India to file a lawsuit against Nestlé, seeking nearly $100 million in damages for violating food safety standards. In response to the controversy, Nestlé took a proactive measure by voluntarily withdrawing Maggi products from the market until they could ensure their safety for consumption. This strategic move allowed Nestlé to salvage its reputation and evade the hefty fine initially demanded by Indian authorities.
The Maggi incident in India is often associated with concerns about Nestlé's adherence to food safety regulations and underscored the importance of swift action in crisis management for multinational corporations, including allegations related to "Nestle crimes." Nestlé's decision to remove the product from the market showcased its commitment to addressing the issue and restoring consumer trust, albeit with significant financial implications.
Nestlé, a multibillion-dollar corporation with complete market dominance, has faced numerous controversies over the years. Despite engaging in several unethical and illegal activities, the company seemingly manages to evade significant consequences, thanks to its vast wealth, power, and influence in lawmaking as a large corporation.
Nestlé's adept marketing strategies, coupled with its ability to easily influence its consumer base through advertisements featuring bold claims and promises, contribute to a facade that diverges starkly from the harsh reality. The company has earned the dubious reputation of being dubbed "the most evil company of all time," a label fueled by ongoing Nestle controversies that shed light on questionable business practices.
Why Nestlé is an unethical company?
Nestle is known as an unethical company because of the use of child labour and the manufacturing of plastic bottles that damage the environment.
Does Nestlé have a bad reputation?
Yes, Nestle is known for human trafficking, Child labour, and manipulating customers.
Why is Nestlé being boycotted?
Nestle was being boycotted because it manipulated uneducated mothers by selling its infant formula in poor countries, leading to malnutrition.
Is Nestle a bad company?
Nestle is criticized for labour practices, water usage, marketing tactics, and plastic pollution. However, they try to source ethically and be sustainable. Ultimately, judging their "goodness" depends on your ethics.
Who owns Nestle?
Nestlé is publicly traded, so no single entity owns it entirely. However, major shareholders include institutional investors like BlackRock and the company itself holding a small percentage.
Why is Nestle so evil?
Nestle is criticized for child labour, formula marketing, water overuse, and plastic waste. These issues have worsened its reputation and made it an "evil company".