Nestlé: Groundbreaking Boycott Saves Millions of Infant Lives
Corporate Accountability International (then Infact) launched the historic Nestlé Boycott in 1977. It was the first boycott to force a major corporation to heed the concerns of the global public and commit to major changes in its practices.
Nestlé, the world's largest food corporation at the time, was aggressively marketing breast milk substitutes to mothers in the Global South as the most nutritious choice for their babies. But, these women could scant afford the formula powder and, when they could, they lacked access to clean water to mix it with. Many mothers watered down the formula in order to make it last, leading to widespread infant death from malnutrition and water-borne illness.
Working with allies around the world, Corporate Accountability International organized a 10-nation boycott of Nestlé products. The campaign helped compel the World Health Organization to advance a global code of conduct on marketing of breast-milk substitutes: a means of saving millions of infants’ lives. All of the member countries of the World Heath Assembly voted to adopt the code...except the United States.
In 1984, boycotters achieved another major victory when Nestlé agreed to sweeping reforms in its infant formula marketing practices. An untold number of lives were saved as a result.