A hard-hitting Greenpeace campaign targeting Nestlé's Kit Kat has failed to harm sales of the brand, The Grocer can reveal.

In one of the most shocking and graphic viral videos ever made about a brand, an office worker eats a Kit Kat that turns out to be an orang-utan's finger. The video was made to highlight Nestlé's association with Sinar Mas, Indonesia's largest palm oil company, which the campaigners claim is illegally destroying the rainforests where orangutans live.

But new data from IRI has revealed that Kit Kat sales have actually increased since the campaign was launched in March.

Value sales of Kit Kat four-finger bars rose 3.6% year-on-year to £5.8m in March this year and by 4.2% year-on-year to £5.3m in April. Volume sales also rose, by 0.2% in March and 1.3% in April.

The figures follow a storming two years for the brand, with value sales up 6.4% in 2009 and 19.2% in 2008 [Nielsen].

Greenpeace forest campaigner Ian Duff insisted the campaign had not set out to encourage a boycott of Nestlé products.

"We never expected sales to be affected by our campaign," he said. "It was always about urging the public to tell Nestlé that they do not agree with them sourcing palm oil that leads to the destruction of rainforests. The public wants Nestlé to act in a sustainable way."

The Greenpeace campaign which has included protests outside Nestlé offices worldwide, campaigners abseiling into the manufacturer's agm and the takeover of the company's Facebook site was set to step up a notch, Duff promised.

Greenpeace this week called for donations so that it could target Nestlé "decision-makers" with an advert in an international newspaper.

Nestlé has told Greenpeace that it has stopped all purchases of palm oil from Sinar Mas.

In a letter sent to Greenpeace two weeks ago, Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe also reiterated that he expected "urgent action" from suppliers and that he "will not tolerate" oil from non-sustainable sources.

Read more
Greenpeace points finger at Nestlé over palm oil policies (27 March 2010)
Nestlé battles Greenpeace over Kit Kat palm oil claim (18 March 2010)