|Type||Public (SIX: NESN)|
|Founded||Vevey, Switzerland (1866)|
|Key people||Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (Chairman)
Paul Bulcke (CEO)
|Products||Baby food, coffee, dairy products, breakfast cereals, confectionery, bottled water, ice cream, pet foods, more...|
|Revenue||CHF 109.9 billion (2008)|
|Operating income||▲ CHF 15.68 billion (2008)|
|Profit||▲ CHF 18.04 billion (2008)|
|Total assets||CHF 106.2 billion (2008)|
|Total equity||CHF 54.92 billion (2008)|
Nestlé S.A. (French pronunciation: [nɛsˈle]) is a multinational packaged foods company founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, and listed on the SWX Swiss Exchange with a market capitalization of over 87 billion Swiss francs.
It originated in a 1905 merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company for milk products established in 1866 by the Page Brothers in Cham, Switzerland, and the Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé Company set up in 1866 by Henri Nestlé to provide an infant food product. The two world wars both affected growth: during the first, dried milk was widely used but the second war caused profits to drop by around 70%. However, sales of the instant coffee Nescafé were boosted by the US military. After the wars, growth was stimulated by acquisitions that expanded the company's product range and brought a number of globally recognized brands into its fold, including Maggi and Thomy. Nestlé is the world's largest foods company, followed by PepsiCo.
Today, in English-speaking countries, "Nestlé" is most commonly pronounced /ˈnɛstleɪ/). However, the original pronunciation was /ˈnɛsəl/, as in the English verb "nestle". This pronunciation was common throughout much of the 20th century, but changes in its spoken form in advertising influenced it to become more akin to its native pronunciation [nɛsle] in French-speaking Switzerland. The old pronunciation, however, is still used today in some regions such as the Black Country. "Nestle" in Alemannic German (Alemannisch – as spoken in southwestern Germany and in Switzerland) refers to a small nest (Nest being the same word in English and German). The -le ending makes the word into a diminutive.
The company dates to 1867, when two separate Swiss enterprises were founded that would later form the core of Nestlé. In August of that year, Charles A. and George Page, brothers from Lee County, IL in the United States, established the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Cham. In September, in Vevey, Henri Nestlé developed a milk-based baby food and soon began marketing it. In the succeeding decades both enterprises aggressively expanded their businesses throughout Europe and the United States. (Henri Nestlé retired in 1875, but the company, under new ownership, retained his name as Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé.) In 1877 Anglo-Swiss added milk-based baby foods to its products, and in the following year the Nestlé company added condensed milk, so that the firms became direct and fierce rivals.
In 1905, however, the companies merged to become the Nestlé and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, retaining that name until 1947, when the name Nestlé Alimentana SA was taken as a result of the acquisition of Fabrique de Produits Maggi SA (founded 1884) and its holding company, Alimentana SA of Kempttal, Switzerland. Maggi was a major manufacturer of soup mixes and related foodstuffs. The company’s current name was adopted in 1977. By the early 1900s, the company was operating factories in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. World War I created new demand for dairy products in the form of government contracts; by the end of the war, Nestlé's production had more than doubled.
After the war, government contracts dried up and consumers switched back to fresh milk. However, Nestlé's management responded quickly, streamlining operations and reducing debt. The 1920s saw Nestlé's first expansion into new products, with chocolate the company's second most important activity.
Nestlé felt the effects of World War II immediately. Profits dropped from US$20 million in 1938 to US$6 million in 1939. Factories were established in developing countries, particularly Latin America. Ironically, the war helped with the introduction of the company's newest product, Nescafé, which was a staple drink of the US military. Nestlé's production and sales rose in the wartime economy.
The end of World War II was the beginning of a dynamic phase for Nestlé. Growth accelerated and companies were acquired. In 1947 came the merger with Maggi seasonings and soups. Crosse & Blackwell followed in 1950, as did Findus (1963), Libby's (1971) and Stouffer's (1973). Diversification came with a shareholding in L'Oréal in 1974. In 1977, Nestlé made its second venture outside the food industry by acquiring Alcon Laboratories Inc.
In 1984, Nestlé's improved bottom line allowed the company to launch a new round of acquisitions, notably American food giant Carnation and the British confectionery company Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988, which brought the Willy Wonka Brand to Nestlé.
The first half of the 1990s proved to be favorable for Nestlé: trade barriers crumbled and world markets developed into more or less integrated trading areas. Since 1996 there have been acquisitions including San Pellegrino (1997), Spillers Petfoods (1998), and Ralston Purina (2002). There were two major acquisitions in North America, both in 2002: in June, Nestlé merged its U.S. ice cream business into Dreyer's, and in August a US$2.6 billion acquisition was announced of Chef America, the creator of Hot Pockets. In the same time frame, Nestlé came close to purchasing the iconic American company Hershey's, though the deal fell through. Another recent purchase includes the Jenny Craig weight loss program for US$600 million.
In December 2005 Nestlé bought the Greek company Delta Ice Cream for €240 million. In January 2006 it took full ownership of Dreyer's, thus becoming the world's biggest ice cream maker with a 17.5% market share.
In November 2006, Nestlé purchased the Medical Nutrition division of Novartis Pharmaceutical for $2.5B, also acquiring in 2007 the milk flavoring product known as Ovaltine. In April 2007 Nestlé bought baby food manufacturer Gerber for $5.5 billion. 
In December 2007 Nestlé entered in a strategic partnership with a Belgian chocolate maker Pierre Marcolini.
Nestlé agreed to sell its controlling stake in Alcon to Novartis on 4 January 2010. The sale forms part of a broader US $39.3 billion offer by Novartis to fully acquire the world’s largest eye-care company.
Nestlé has a wide range of products across a number of markets including coffee (Nescafé), bottled water, other beverages, chocolate, ice cream, infant foods, performance and healthcare nutrition, seasonings, frozen and refrigerated foods, confectionery and pet food.
The executive board, a distinct entity from the board of directors, includes:
Current members of the board of directors of Nestlé are: Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (chairman), Paul Bulcke, Andreas Koopmann, Rolf Hänggi, Jean-René Fourtou, Daniel Borel, Jean-Pierre Meyers, André Kudelski, Carolina Müller-Möhl, Steven Hoch, Naïna Lal Kidwai and Beat Hess. The Secretary to the Board is David Frick.
According to a 2006 global survey of online consumers by the Reputation Institute, Nestlé has a reputation score of 70.4 on a scale of 1–100.
Nestlé holds 26.4% of the shares of L'Oréal, the world's largest company in cosmetics and beauty. The Laboratoires Inneov is a joint venture in nutritional cosmetics between Nestlé and L'Oréal, and Galderma a joint venture in dermatology with L'Oréal. Others include Cereal Partners Worldwide with General Mills, Beverage Partners Worldwide with Coca-Cola, and Dairy Partners Americas with Fonterra.
Some of Nestlé's past and current business actions have attracted widespread criticism. The most prominent and well documented controversy concerns its methods of marketing of processed cow's milk or baby formula (infant or more recently follow on formula) as a substitute for breastfeeding, to mothers across the world including developing countries. Promotion in economically disadvantaged countries is of particular concern. Nestlé's activities attracted worldwide attention during the Nestlé boycott of 1977. The company's marketing and PR teams have worked to improve the public perception of the company's activities concerns over the years, launching some Fairtrade products in the interim, and several grind-at-home Fairtrade coffees in Sweden, which led to a new round of criticism.
In late September 2009, it was brought to light that Nestlé was buying milk from illegally-seized farms currently operated by Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe. Mugabe and his regime are currently subject to EU sanctions, a fact that Nestlé used to point out that, as a Swiss company, they were exempt from EU rulings, and thus trade was fair.
Starting in 2002, Zimbabwe seized thousands of profitable white-owned farms, which were handed over to ZANU-PF supporters. Since then, many if not most of the farms are no longer operational. The campaign of state-orchestrated violence killed many and displaced thousands of workers and farmers. In December 2009, the company announced a temporary closure of its dairy plant citing harassment of its employees by authorities. Earlier, the company had come under pressure to buy milk from "certain non-contracted suppliers" after it announced it would stop buying milk from Gushungo Dairy Estate owned by Grace Mugabe due to human rights activists' boycott campaign against Nestlé.
Beginning in the late 1970s Nestlé began to attract global criticism for its infant-formula marketing policies, especially those conducted in developing countries. Public outcry peaked with the Nestlé boycott of 1977 which (though suspended for several years in the mid-1980s) remains in effect today. Nestlé is the most boycotted company in the world as a result.
Evidence shows that Nestlé advertised and still advertises its formula as a risk-free substitute (or even a preferable alternative) to breastmilk, resulting in increased use and often replacing available breastmilk. There is a substantial body of evidence on the risks of the use of formula. Risks stem from the intrinsic problems of use of a non-human substance as a food for the human infant, the risks of contamination of the product itself with chemical contaminants or pathogenic bacteria or the risks of incorrect or unsafe preparation or storage and use of formula in bottles. The risks of formula are much greater when used in the developing world, and it is estimated that 1.5 million deaths a year are attributable to a lack of breastfeeding. However, deaths also occur in the developed world, especially among premature infants who are at increased risk of necrotising enterocolitis when fed with formula.
There is also the economic issue, particularly pertinent in developing countries, of mothers spending money on a foreign product, which could be used to improve the well-being of the baby and/or the mother (and could support the domestic economy).
The promotion and distribution of formula, particularly in undeveloped regions, continues. Responding to criticism, Nestlé now labels all non-formula milk products (such as coffee creamer) with explicative warnings such as, "this product is not to be used as a breast milk substitute." The agricultural conglomerate also voiced its agreement to abide by the nonbinding International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes established in 2004 by the World Health Assembly, though the company has faced multiple allegations of breaching this policy. The most recent evidence of malpractice came in February 2008, to which Nestlé responded by halting distribution of one product line and shutting down the operations of an independent licensee.
In December 2002, the food-retailing corporation stirred up bad publicity when it demanded $6 million in compensation from one of the world's poorest governments. Twenty years previously, the then-military Ethiopian regime had seized and nationalized a company that later became a Nestlé subsidiary and the company claimed entitlement to financial restitution under international law. The US$6 million demand was issued for shares in an Ethiopian agricultural firm, which was nationalised by the Marxist Mengistu regime in 1975. Nestlé acquired ELIDCO’s parent company, the Schweisfurth Group, ten years later. Nestlé initially refused the Ethiopian government’s offer of a settlement worth around US$1.5 million (a figure based on the 2002 exchange rate between the dollar and the Ethiopian birr) but insisted on $6m (based on the exchange rate at the time of the nationalization). Nestlé eventually accepted the lesser amount, which it subsequently availed to famine relief projects in the region.
In early 2005, Nestlé Purina sold thousands of tons of contaminated animal feed in Venezuela. The local brands included Dog Chow, Cat Chow, Puppy Chow, Fiel, Friskies, Gatsy, K-Nina, Nutriperro, Perrarina and Pajarina. It was reported that the contamination was caused by a supplier that had stored corn used in animal food production incorrectly, which led to a proliferation of a fungus with a high quantity of aflatoxin causing hepatic problems in the animals that ate the food. On March 3, 2005, the National Assembly (Venezuela's federal legislature) stated that the company Nestlé Purina was responsible for the quality standards and that compensation must be paid to the owners of the affected animals.
In 2001, Mecosta County, Michigan licensed the company, of which Perrier was then a subsidiary, to open a bottling plant in Stanwood for a fee of less than US$100 a year. Operating requirements of the factory called for pumping 500,000 gallons (1.9 million litres) of water a day from an aquifer. After learning about the plan, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation launched a direct action campaign against Nestlé and sought a temporary injunction to halt pumping while the court heard arguments on the legality of Nestlé's use of the water. However, this injunction has not been granted. Nestlé purchased the Calistoga Water Company in 1980.
Nestlé Canada applied for a five year extension and increase in volume with respect to water bottling activities at Aberfoyle, Ontario near Guelph Ontario. In April 2008 they were granted only a two year extension and no increase in volume after a prolonged decision period and considerable opposition from area residents, led by the Wellington Water Watchers.
In 2006 Nestlé began a negotiations process with the town of McCloud, California, to build one of the nation's largest bottled water plants in the US and use a portion of the water flowing from the springs of Mt. Shasta. The contract process was protested by local special interest groups Protect Our Waters and California Trout, which claimed that Nestlé neglected to study the impact on the region's ground water and overstated the potential economic benefits of the proposed plant. A consensus could not be reached and the plan was canceled in September 2009.
In August 2004 a Greenpeace test found genetically modified organisms in Chinese Nesquik. A Chinese woman sued Nestlé since the use of GMOs in that kind of product was prohibited by local law. In December a second test was negative. In November 2005 Nestlé opposed a Swiss ban on GMOs.
In April 2006, a Forbes article reported on Nestlé's purchasing of chocolate from plantations which employed slave labor. According to the article, the International Labour Organisation, part of the UN, estimates that 284,000 child laborers work on cocoa farms in West Africa, mainly in the Côte d'Ivoire. Mars and Hershey's are also being investigated. Global Exchange and the International Labour rights Fund are taking Nestlé, commodities trader Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill to court in the US under the Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act. Nestlé signed an agreement called the Cocoa Protocol to say that it would find a way by July 2005 to certify that chocolate had not been produced by underage, indentured, trafficked or coerced labor.
Unions representing Nestlé employees around the world united in the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)  have expressed concern over a number of workplace issues including Nestlé's move towards outsourcing of its manufacturing. In October 2008, the IUF launched NestleWatch, a new web-based initiative to address these issues.
In December 2007 Nestlé was found guilty of colluding with other milk producers to fix prices in Greece.
In late September 2008, the Hong Kong government claimed to have found melamine in a Chinese-made Nestlé milk product. The Dairy Farm milk was made by Nestlé's division in the Chinese coastal city Qingdao. Nestlé affirmed that all its products were safe and were not made from milk adulterated with melamine. On October 2, 2008 the Taiwan Health ministry announced that six types of milk powders produced in China by Nestlé contained traces of melamine. Nestlé has announced that it will begin a recall of milk products produced in China.