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Sunday, 4 October 2009

Nestle defends and still supports Mugabe

On Friday I blogged about how buying a kitkat was funding Robert Mugabe and that according to Nestle they stopped purchasing milk from Grace Mugabe who now owns Gushungo Dairy Estate.

However, last Friday I emailed Nestle directly to ascertain the facts. Today I received a reply from a Consumer Relations Executive in the Consumer Services Department where at no point in the email does it say that Nestle have stopped purchasing milk from Grace Mugabe or Gushungo Dairy.

Here is the email in full;

"Dear Mr Reeves,

Thank you very much for your email.

Nestlé Zimbabwe owns and operates a factory in Harare, producing milk powder and cereals mainly for the local market. Nestlé is a fully-fledged member of the local community in Zimbabwe, employing around 200 people there and providing additional employment for many hundreds of milk farmers and other suppliers.

The continuous supply of consistently high quality fresh milk is crucial to Nestlé’s operations in Zimbabwe. During the last few years Nestlé has witnessed the collapse of Zimbabwe’s dairy industry. Nestlé prefers to work within contractual agreements to ensure a constant supply of fresh milk but, at the end of 2008, the company found itself operating in a market where eight of its sixteen contractual suppliers had gone out of business.

As a result, in early 2009, Nestlé was forced to purchase milk on the open market from a wide variety of suppliers on a non-contractual basis. This includes milk from the Gushungo Dairy Estate which today accounts for between 10 and 15 per cent of Nestlé's local milk supply.

Nestlé is a truly global company which operates in almost all countries in the world in a wide variety of political settings. Despite the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe, Nestlé has not considered moving its operations out of the country. By providing basic food products to Zimbabwean consumers, Nestlé aims to meet the needs of the local population, many of whom are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Had Nestlé decided to close down its operations in Zimbabwe, the company would have triggered further food shortages and hundreds of job losses among its employees and milk suppliers in an already very difficult situation.

Thank you again for taking the trouble to contact us. We are grateful for the interest you have shown in our company."

This email in my mind clarifies and underlines that Nestle are still purchasing milk from Grace Mugabe especially this line "This includes milk from the Gushungo Dairy Estate which today accounts for between 10 and 15 per cent of Nestlé's local milk supply."

Their justification for buying milk from an evil dictators wife is that if they didn't jobs would have been lost, but where is their statement on Corporate Social Responsibility and how does supporting Mugabe fit into that?

I decided to search for this, on the Nestle Zimbabwe site in the media centre, an almost duplicate of the email to me is displayed as the media statement but CSR is a large document, so I will be downloading this and reporting back soon.

Therefore every time you buy a kitkat, a tube of smarties or any of the hundreds of brands owned by Nestle you are clearly helping to fund Mugabe the Zimbabwe dictator, I for one could not have that on my conscience.

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