Long before Greenpeace's Sinar Mas campaign, Nestlé announced a pledge to source only certified sustainably sourced palm oil by 2015 and to work with providers of certified palm oil to increase availability. In the UK we have committed to buying palm oil certificates to cover all of our palm oil purchases from the beginning of this year.
We have now addressed Greenpeace's concerns and recently formed a partnership with The Forest Trust, a significant development in Nestlé's long-term commitment to tackling the serious global problem of deforestation, which will initially focus on palm oil production.
Joanna's comments on baby milk are also ill-informed. Nestlé learned a great deal from its experience of infant formula marketing in Africa three decades ago. Recognising our responsibility to go beyond what were accepted industry marketing standards at the time, we were the first company to integrate the World Health Organization's International Code on the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO Code) across our entire operations in developing countries, nearly 30 years ago. This means that in developing countries Nestlé does not promote infant formula directly or indirectly to mothers or the general public.
To infer that 1.5 million babies die each year because of the unsafe use of infant formula is also incorrect. Clarifying the point, the World Health Organization has stated: "WHO has made no statement quantifying the impact on either morbidity or mortality of infants being fed on bona fide infant formula...
"In contrast, WHO has estimated that [this] number of infant deaths ... could be averted annually through effective breastfeeding promotion, and this irrespective of the breast-milk substitutes used to feed them or, for that matter, the feeding utensils employed for this purpose" [WHO, 19 November 1992].
The vast majority of women in developing countries breastfeed, but exclusive breastfeeding is rare. Dietary surveys show that most infants up to six months are also fed water, rice water, starch water or whole cows milk which the WHO believes are not suitable breast-milk substitutes. Infant formula is the only suitable alternative to breast milk that the WHO recognises.
We don't always get it right but Joanna is wrong to assert that Nestlé doesn't listen to consumers or stakeholders.
As our actions prove, Nestlé is committed to playing a valuable role in the societies and communities in which we operate. We think we should be judged on our actions, not on outdated opinion.
Paul Grimwood, chief executive, Nestlé UK and Ireland