Nestlé Vows to Suspend Business Operations in Russia
Nestlé will suspend its Russian-based business operations that are not linked to providing infant food or medical and hospital nutrition, the world’s largest food company stated Wednesday after having faced significant public pressure, including calls for boycott of its products.
Last week, the multinational food conglomerate once again found itself under fire from governments and human rights groups — this time for its initial decision to not immediately suspend its Russian-based operations despite the country’s unprovoked and ongoing invasion of Ukraine which has sparked near global condemnation.
Moscow’s move was followed by wave after wave of international sanctions levied against Russia’s economy, financial institutions, currency, and oligarchs. Companies around the world have also united in their resolve to suspend all of their business dealings in the country until further notice.
But although Nestlé finds itself late to the party, it will now exclusively limit itself in Russia to “providing essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition — not on making a profit,” the Swiss conglomerate said.
The world’s largest food company also noted that, preceding this decision, it had already halted non-essential imports and exports in and out of Russia as well as suspended all of its advertising and capital investment dealings in the country.
Reportedly, this move required some convincing. Last week, Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, tweeted that he had spoken with Nestlé’s chief executive officer Mark Schneider on the implications of maintaining operations within the Russian market.
Shmyhal noted that Schneider displayed no understanding of the bigger picture in that “paying taxes to the budget of a terrorist country means killing defenseless children&mothers.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also denounced the Swiss food conglomerate on Saturday for prioritizing its bottom line in Russia over the lives of the Ukrainian people.
“Business in Russia works even though our children die and our cities are destroyed,” Zelensky said in a streamed speech to the people of Bern, Switzerland, according to local media reports.
Calls to boycott all Nestlé products soon arose. These include globally recognized brands such as Nespresso, Kit Kat, and Nesquik which help generate billions for the company every year.
Anonymous, a decentralized online hacker and activist group, labeled the Swiss conglomerate as “sponsors of tyranny.”
Attached in their tweet was also an image that distorted Nestlé’s logo, with the mother bird in the nest now depicted as Hitler wearing a Nazi armband with a “Z” in lieu of a swastika and her chicks now shown performing the Nazi salute.
The “Z” signifies the Russian troops deployed in Ukraine, who have painted the letter on their vehicles and armored convoys.
Now, however, Nestlé has vowed to adjust its business model so that it does not expect to make a profit in Russia or pay the country any related taxes for the foreseeable future.
Additionally, the Swiss conglomerate has pledged to provide emergency care packages to its 5,800 employees based in Ukraine as well as their families.
And in the event that any profit in Russia is made, it will “be donated to humanitarian relief organizations,” the company said.