April 24th, 2012
Nestlé’s Purchase of Pfizer’s Infant Formula Unit Detriment to Public Health
By Wenonah Hauter
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
“Today Nestlé announced it has purchased Pfizer’s infant nutrition unit to expand into fast-growing emerging markets, particularly in Asia. This renewed focus on growing the market for its infant formula products is troubling given the corporation’s track record of using dubious practices to market infant formula in developing countries, where it is often prepared in unhygienic conditions with unsafe water. It appears this investment will pave the way for more dubious marketing practices, which as recently as last year have been criticized by public health groups in Laos.
“Nestlé has another product it’s pushing on consumers in developing countries: bottled water. As Nestlé’s bottled water business stagnates in industrialized countries, it’s turning to the emerging markets to sustain it. Both bottled water and infant formula are two products that the company has defined as ‘Popularly Positioned Products’* that target ‘less affluent consumers in emerging markets’. Surely, it is no coincidence that many mothers will prepare the formula with bottled water—which will no doubt benefit Nestlé’s emerging market strategy.
“Selling bottled water to poor people, and pushing infant formula on poor but otherwise healthy mothers who may not have access to safe drinking water is doing what Nestlé does best: undermining public health in the name of profit.”
* This report was obtained at the link http://www.research.nestle.com/asset-libraries/Documents/Popularly Positioned Products.pdf on April 9, 2012. It has since been removed from its public site and is now only accessible there via log-in.