The Swiss multinational Nestle needs no introduction, it has been a leader in the food & beverage market for many years and tons of their products crowd the aisles of our supermarkets.
After the start of the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it received numerous international pressures to disengage from the aggressor country's market, but despite everything the company producing brands such as Nespresso, Nesquik, Buitoni, San Pellegrino and Baci Perugina (and many others) does not seem to have much intention of withdrawing from Moscow.
Nestlé sponsors the war in Ukraine
Reduction of Nestle production in Russia. Or maybe not.
Apparently Nespresso coffee capsules are from now on to be considered a basic necessity
Nestle, in the same way as companies like Benetton group, Barilla o Ferrero released a statement on their position in the war that Russia has waged against Ukraine where it was specified that there would be one strong reduction in production and distribution of their brands in Russia with the exception of products deemed essential without leaving the country of the international criminal putin, underlining their intention to support their employees of the Russian subsidiaries (and consequently the economy of the country that started this war). Actions that exclude a priori a withdrawal from Russia while waiting for someone to put an end to this war without getting their hands very dirty.
Having said this, it seems that the concept of "essential products" is still quite vague and flexible for Nestlè. Indeed an investigation by the Swiss newspaper NZZ highlighted how Russian store shelves are full of Nestle products. Apparently Nespresso coffee capsules are from now on to be considered a basic necessity.
Furthermore, the Nestlè factories in Russia continue their work without interruptions despite the fact that the press releases underline their adherence to international sanctions against Russia. It seems that it is important for Nestle that the Kremlin's economy holds up.
Nestle does not condemn Russia's war
However, Nestlé's ambiguity regarding its commercial conduct in this situation is not surprising. If we analyze the press release on the subject that the Swiss multinational has published and placed online on its website there is never any mention of aggression unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, but it is simply noted that "there is war" in Ukraine. Our grandchildren will decide who is to blame in the future.
We believe that a multinational of such importance must openly declare its values, recognizing who the aggressor and the attacked are without ambiguity. Ukraine did not attack itself.
Nestlè brands are numerous and their widespread distribution over the years has allowed everyone to know them. Precisely for this reason, Nestlé's refusal to withdraw from the Russian market is even more annoying. In fact, it is often difficult to make an ethical choice that contrasts with our habits and the lack of information on the subject certainly does not make things easier.
However, let's remember the most famous Nestlè brands, to better understand which food & beverage giant we are talking about and the importance of its choices:
Purina, Friskies and Gourmet (dog and cat food);
KitKat, Smarties, Baci Perugina (chocolate);
Nesquik (chocolate mix for milk drinks);
Levissima and San Pellegrino (water);
Maxibon (ice cream);
Nestlé owns many other brands, we refer you to their website to view them all and to find out which ones you are still consuming and, perhaps, decide to make an ethical and informed choice on your next purchases.
Nationalization risk for Nestlé in Russia
A very interesting thing that could make the desire of companies like Nestlé to continue working in Russia useless is the possibility that multinational companies originating from countries hostile to the Kremlin will be nationalized from Moscow in response to international sanctions. This is not just propaganda, in Russia the branches of, for example, Danone and Carlsberg have already been nationalised, it would not be surprising if Danone could be the next to join the list.
What does it mean to continue doing business in Russia
Bringing work and income to Russia creates inevitable support for the economic and social fabric of a country that would instead need to really understand first-hand the effects of the war unleashed in Ukraine
The failure to withdraw the activities of the multinational Nestle in Russia has several consequences.
The first and perhaps most painful is to replenish the Kremlin's coffers with proceeds deriving from taxes generated by sales in the Russian market. As we well know, and even more so given the latest news of the decision putin to increase the military budget for 2024, these taxes will not be used for the welfare of the invading country, but will be transformed into artillery to be used in the war against the brave Ukrainian people.
The second consequence is support for the Russian economy, limiting the effects of the international sanctions that Nestlé claims to support (or at least not contest). By bringing work and income to Russia, we create inevitable support for the economic and social fabric of a country that would instead need to really understand first-hand the effects of the war unleashed in Ukraine.
Many other multinational companies continue to do business in Russia
But it is not only Nestlé that continues its business in Russia, many other multinationals have not abandoned the Kremlin. To find out which companies support the Moscow economy despite the war we recommend you follow the site Leave Russia (by the KSE Institute of Kyiv) or to follow the movement B4Ukraine which monitors these companies by pushing for their exit from the Russian market. Just B4Ukraine sent a letter in November 2022 at Nestlè, recalling their international duties and the ethical violations that their decision to stay in Russia entails. Nestlè responded to their questions but without giving explanations which in our opinion were very convincing. Specifically, Nestlè's response was the re-proposal of their press release: "we do charity for Ukraine, we have stopped the production of non-essential goods in Russia and we have blocked new investments in marketing and advertising". However, everything is very questionable.