Whenever there is a discussion about the most corrupt and unethical corporations in the world, Nestlé always tops the list. Nestléis 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.
Nestléhas around 339,000 people working for it in its 447 factories in 189 countries. But why is a company with such a huge influence and market called evil and unethical? Let’s start with its history. Nestlébegan 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 to people feeling 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 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 their baby formula as superior to breast milk, attempting to manipulate customers by spreading the narrative that their 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 the women as they were dressed as nurses. The free samples were weighed and packaged strategically to last just up to the day when the mothers get fully dependent on the formula and stop 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. But the damage was done. The company 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 their 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-filled in 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 Nestlé is from the ground. Nestlé is blamed for exploiting the groundwater of the areas where the public needs it the most and selling it for their profit. 4
It is clearly unethical and dangerous for the environment. The company is also guilty of taking water sources from the countries where people are forced to drink dirty water as their clean water sources are acquired by Nestlé 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. However, the reasoning is absurd because Nestlé is the one that 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 of 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.
Not only are the plastic bottles damaging the environment; 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 and killed around 3 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 and made zero progress in the environmentally safe sector and has not addressed the waste they are generating at all.
Nestlé is a multibillion-dollar corporation with complete market dominance. Despite the fact that they have engaged in several unethical and illegal activities, they are able to get away with it because of their wealth, power, and influence in lawmaking as a large corporation.
The brand has a good marketing game and the ability to easily influence its consumer base through advertisements with bold claims and promises, but the reality is far worse than imagination. That is why the company has been dubbed "the most evil company of all time."
Why Nestlé is an unethical company?
Nestle is known as an unethical company because of the use of child labour and manufacturing plastic bottles that are damaging 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 y selling its infant formula in poor countries leading to malnutrition.