Ukraine invasion

Nestlé, Mondelēz on the defensive as pressure grows to pull out of Russia

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé said it is continuing to 'focus on meeting the needs of the local people'. Pic: Nestlé
Nestlé said it is continuing to 'focus on meeting the needs of the local people'. Pic: Nestlé

Related tags: Nestlé, Mondelez International, Ukraine

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is pressuring confectionery firms Nestlé and Mondelēz International, along with other multinationals, to completely pull out of the Russian market.

Nestlé, which owns the KitKat and Smarties brands, said in a statement: “We have significantly scaled back our activities in Russia: we have stopped all imports and exports from Russia, except for essential products. We no longer make investments or advertise our products. We do not make a profit from our remaining activities. The fact that we, like other food companies, supply the population with important food does not mean that we simply continue as before​.

At the same time, we are doing whatever we can in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to help alleviate this humanitarian catastrophe. Our colleagues in Ukraine are doing everything they can to help the population with food donations. We are still one of the few active food companies in Ukraine and sometimes even manage to distribute food in Kharkiv​.”

International companies operating in Russia claim they have a moral responsibility to keep providing ordinary citizens access to nutrition.

Mondelēz International told ConfectioneryNews: "As a food company, we are scaling back all non-essential activities in Russia while helping maintain continuity of the food supply during the challenging times ahead.  We will also continue to support our colleagues in the market who are facing great uncertainty. We will focus our operation on basic offerings, discontinue all new capital investments and suspend our advertising media spending. We recognise this is a highly dynamic and very concerning situation that we will continue to assess and adjust as needed."

'Cheap PR'

Ukrainian President Volodyrmyr Zelenskyy called out Nestlé and other multinationals for using ‘cheap PR’ to cover up their decision to remain in Russia, despite the war.

"It's necessary that all Western companies leave the Russian market and not cover with cheap PR their thirst for profit despite blood, despite war crimes​," Zelenskyy said in a social media post.

International online activist group Anonymous is also said to be targeting Nestlé and requesting it to cut all ties with Russia, while also calling for people to boycott buying its products.

Ukraine prime minister Denys Shmyhal revealed in a tweet that he spoke with Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider about the ‘side effects’ of staying in the Russian market. “Unfortunately, he shows no understanding​,” he said. “Paying taxes to the budget of a terrorist country means killing defenseless children&mothers [sic]. Hope that Nestle will change its mind soon​.”

Nestlé told FoodNavigator website: “We consider conversations with governmental authorities private​,” adding, “In Russia, we continue to focus on meeting the needs of the local people​.”

According to FoodNavigator, Nestlé typically earns EUR1.6 billion of sales from Russia. It has stripped down much of its Russian operations to basic necessities and says it doesn’t make a profit from its remaining activities in the country.

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4 comments

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South African-style boycott

Posted by DJ,

I have known many fine and responsible people at both companies.

Its not a question of what products they sell or if they make money. Or the morality of the employees or for that matter what the former CEO of Nestle said in 2005 about whether free access to water is a human right.

It's really a question of whether the world as a whole will tolerate the behavior of Putin's Russia.

Some of the management of these companies appear to be taking a one foot in/one foot out approach so they can jump back in quickly "when this blows over" while focusing their PR on the foot that is out. Like Zelensky says. So they are curtailing their investment in Russia, who in their right mind would invest in Russia anyway right now?

In the same way that the boycott of apartheid South Africa eventually helped to bring about change, the world must do the same in Russia. Both feet out. The idea that these companies are providing humanitarian products for innocent Russian families is ridiculous and loss of those products is another cost of Putin's war.

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Not surprised

Posted by Wascally Wabbit,

I had always associated Nestle with cartoon rabbits and yummy chocolatey drink powders until I saw this documentary:
"Bottled Life: Nestle's Business with Water"
It's on Netflix and parts of it may be on YouTube as well. If you don't have time to see the documentary (it's quite eye-opening) then you can read about it for free here:
https://www.bottledlifefilm.com/about-the-film

Seeing that Nestle is still doing any business with Putin's Russia does not surprise me after seeing this documentary.

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Just stop buying their garbage.

Posted by Daniel,

It's not like Nestle is the "Healthy" choice. If they want to feed the innocent Russian population while they in turn starve the innocent Ukrainian people, just stop buying their garbage. 1 person not buying KitKat bars isn't a problem. 300 million not buying them is a problem.

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