Consumer responsibility and Nestle

Consumer responsibility and Nestle

I was reading a story recently about Nestle and how they are bastards.

They are responsible for a lot of shitty things, but this particular story was about how they set up in small American towns, take their water, bottle it for profit and give nothing back to the town (other than a few jobs).

Reading this story, or any other story about Nestle might be enough to make you stop and think "I'm never going to buy another Nestle product - I don't want to support their immoral business practices."

And so, filled with indignancy, you head out into the world, ready for your own personal boycott of all things Nestle.

But unfortunately you fail.

You fail on your first trip to the supermarket, and you don't even realise it.

What does it all mean?

Nestle is a huge company. Huge.

They employ more than 300,000 people and operate in 189 countries. Their products include:

  • Baby food

  • Medical food

  • Bottled water

  • Breakfast cereals

  • Coffee and tea

  • Confectionery

  • Dairy products

  • Ice cream

  • Frozen food

  • Pet foods

  • Snacks

They literally have their finger in every pie of modern human survival.

The reason you failed in your boycott earlier was that you bought something that did not have Nestle on the packaging, but was one of the 2000 brands that Nestle owns.

For example it could have been any one of the following:

  • Nescafe

  • Nespresso

  • Purina

  • Dolce Gusto

  • Perrier

  • Ski

  • Yorkie

  • Nerds

  • Runts

  • Hot pockets

  • Haagen-Dazs (in North America)

  • SMA nutrition (baby food)

  • Felix / Go cat / Mon petit (various pet foods)

Anyway, the point of all this is:

Consumer responsibility is hard!

As consumers we are told that we, the market, have the power. We decide what it is that businesses do based on how we choose to spend our money.

Many companies will argue that they should be allowed to operate freely in an unregulated market, and many people will agree with them.

However, consumer responsibility is hard.

Companies like Nestle are set up in such a way that we don't even know that we are buying from them.

It's not just consumer goods either. Disney now owns most of the worlds largest entertainment franchises (incl. Star wars, Pixar, Marvel). If you are morally opposed to Disney you won't have many trips to the cinema in your future.

Disney can push it even further (and plan to) by launching their own streaming services online.

This means they will likely start to pull their brands from competitors and hence create an environment where consumers have to pay more because they will have to subscribe to multiple services to get the content they want.

As I've said, consumer responsibility is hard, so we shouldn't use it (or let people us it) as a shield behind which corporations doing shady shit can hide.

Nestle having millions of brands isn't necessarily a bad thing - but monopolies are bad, and we all need to be mindful of the illusion of choice.

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