It’s not a free lunch – it’s a Nestlé marketing strategy
On 24 May 2013 it held an event in Histon, near Cambridge, for midwives and Doulas on water births – though the Nestlé Nutrition representative was also on hand and a session on SMA products was scheduled.
Such events violate World Health Assembly Resolutions on conflicts of interest and so Baby Milk Action was present at the entrance to the Holiday Inn where the event was being staged to inform participants of this fact.
A leaflet was provided to anyone willing to take it.
Baby Milk Action is preparing a kit of materials to enable others to do the same wherever Nestlé, its leading competitor, Danone, or other baby food companies target health workers with sponsorship.
As soon as news of the demonstration was posted to social media, experts were offering to provide training without baby food company involvement – free of charge, if necessary.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:
“We hope to have a handful of people outside each event to prompt those turning up to consider the conflicts of interest involved in attending events sponsored by a baby milk company.
“With Nestlé’s entry into the UK market following its takeover of Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth and the SMA formula brand, we are seeing the more aggressive marketing practices it uses around the world appearing here. UK policy makers should follow the example of countries such as India that have outlawed baby food company sponsorship of health workers.
“Health workers also have a responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest. The Indian Paediatric Association refused to take baby food company sponsorship as its own policy and helped to bring about the legislation outlawing it.
“We hope to prompt a similar debate in the UK, so health workers appreciate these events are marketing strategies funded by a premium on the price of formula. It’s not a free lunch – it’s a Nestlé marketing strategy.”
Baby Milk Action ran a successful Stop Wyeth! campaign in 2012 to stop an SMA Baby Know How roadshow being organised by the then owners to promote the formula brand to the public – see press release.
Click here to download the Say NO to Nestlé leaflet. It is designed to be printed double sided and then cut in half.
Other marketing strategies are exposed in the monitoring report Look What They’re Doing in the UK 2013.