Baby Milk Action – developing 2020 vision

You will see in this issue we have changed our logo and name to highlight we are Baby Milk Action – IBFAN-UK.

This follows a strategic review where we listened to feedback from our members and supporters about our work and website. Soon we will be relaunching our website to follow the style of the new international site for IBFAN – the International Baby Food Action Network.

The food industry in 2020

Thinking of the role Baby Milk Action should play in the year 2020, we had to think first about the challenges and possibilities we will face.

The world is becoming ever more globalised. Nestlé and Danone are locked in a global battle to grow their formula sales (pg 20). China is the main target for growth and the scramble is already on. Nestlé is also expanding its infant nutrition production in Latin America (pg 26).

The food industry has a vision of everyone eating processed foods. It is even trying to set the agenda so that malnourished or undernourished people are fed on commercial products that are traded globally. A better approach may be ensuring they have access to land and the means to grow or buy locally produced food.

The food industry is trying to gain ever more influence over policy setting. We have had a lot of success in raising concerns over Conflicts of Interest (pg 6, pg 7, pg 14). The baby food industry has now lost its position of influence with the World Health Organisation.

So instead companies set up their own parallel initiatives, such as Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value Global Forum (pg 26).

Nestlé and Danone are locked in fierce competition around the world and both have launched First 1000 Days programmes, trying to hi-jack the breastfeeding promotion agenda with the underlying aim of selling more products (pg 26).

Seeds of doubt

Breastfeeding is coming under new types of attack. Companies already claim their formula is based on breastmilk and CLOSE to breastmilk. But we expect they will become less subtle as seeds of doubt planted about breastfeeding take root. Flawed research is already generating ‘Is Breast Really Best?’ headlines (pg 23). Watch out for suggestions that technology does not have to balance the mother’s needs against the child and so a brave new world where formula-fed babies are superbabies could be around the corner.

Corporate doublespeak

The success of campaigns exposing bad behaviour has prompted many corporations to invest heavily in trying to make themselves look good. Nestlé has become expert in ‘talking the talk’, while carrying on abusing human rights and environmental standards (pg 27).

Corporate links to charities are a growing concern as well (pg 17, pg 31). Some now just look to what companies say rather than monitoring what they actually do, which is IBFAN’s way.

What we should do 

Over 350 Baby Milk Action members and supporters completed our online and paper questionnaires to tell us what they think of the organisation and what they think we should be doing. We received a further 100 questionnaires giving opinions on our current website and a proposed new design.

This feedback was used by staff and directors at two planning meetings to answer some key questions about the type of organisation Baby Milk Action should be in the year 2020.

For example, should we continue to be a campaigning group involving the public, or should we be more of a policy think-tank providing expert briefings to policy makers?

The answers to this and other questions are summarised as follows:

● The organisation should have members and involve the public

● It should use campaigns to support its advocacy work.

● It should focus on its international outlook, while being the ‘go to’ expert organisation in the UK for our issue.

● It should build capacity of the Baby Feeding Law Group (BFLG) to work on UK issues.

● Within IBFAN, it should continue to play a leading role in company campaigns and advocacy.

● Merchandise should continue to play a role in fundraising and outreach, but with greater focus on the unique materials we develop ourselves (pg 12, pg 27, pg 32).

● Some sort of campaign targeting Nestlé AND Danone should be launched as the new Breaking the Rules global monitoring report confirms they are both now significant sources of violations (pg 20).

● We should continue to have an office to provide support to our members and supporters, while digitising our extensive document archive.

Who we are 

We asked you about the name Baby Milk Action, our logo, our websites – hence, the changes we are introducing to these.

Our mission statement on page two has also been revised and we have been getting some expert input to the layout and style of our materials – let us know what you think of the new look to this newsletter. When we relaunch our website with our IBFAN-UK identity, it will have a responsive design. This means you will be able to read it more easily on smartphones and tablets as it adjusts to the size of the display.

We need you

Corporations do not have it all their own way– sometimes debates can be started and changes made just by a few people asking questions or taking a stand.

So if you have not done so already, why not become a member, buy some of our merchandise or sign up to receive our campaign alerts?


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