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Nestlé’s BabyNes: Nespresso Baby Formula for the Wealthy

Posted Jun 07 2011 12:00am
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Nestle’s single serve coffee is “the fastest growing of Nestlé’s billionaire brands–increased 20% to 3.2 billion Swiss francs ($3.55 billion) in 2010,” according to Fox Business .  The company is hoping to transfer this success to its formula business with its new invention:   BabyNes single serve formula .

BabyNes is the world’s first comprehensive nutrition system for infants and toddlers, and is based on Nestlé’s latest scientific achievements in baby nutrition and systems technology. With BabyNes, Nestlé builds on its unmatched expertise in baby nutrition gained over 145 years since the invention of Farine Lactée by Henri Nestlé.

Nestlé supports exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as possible. For babies who are not breastfed, Nestlé provides high-quality breast milk substitutes, such as BabyNes.

BabyNes offers single-serve formulas for infants and young children up to the age of three years. The composition of the six consecutive formulas meets the evolving nutritional needs in the first three years of life: four formulas in the first year, and one formula for each of the following two years…

The single-serve portions are sealed in capsules, used in the proprietary BabyNes machine, which recognises each capsule and prepares the bottle with precisely the right dosage and temperature, at the push of a button, in less than one minute.

And so the controversy begins…

This product is being introduced in Switzerland first with a hefty price tag.  The machine costs $295, and the formula capsules are four times the cost of the coffee ones.  Nestlé is already accused of unhealthy marketing tactics regarding its formula, promoting it in third world countries as a glamourous first world product.  How will BabyNes be received by Nestlé critics?

swissinfo.ch reports:

“This toy for the rich is putting across the idea that parents can trust a machine to meet the needs of their babies,” Patti Rundall of Baby Milk Action, told swissinfo.ch…

But the 1970s saw a scandal erupt around the formula following its sale in developing countries. Infant deaths were blamed on contaminated water being mixed with the powder while Nestlé was accused of encouraging mothers to stop breastfeeding with aggressive marketing practices…

The WHO intervened in 1981 to put guidelines into place that prohibited direct marketing in developing markets while many countries implemented their own legislation.

Marketing or information?

Rundall believes that Nestlé’s press release highlighting the new BabyNes product infringes that code.

“This press release was picked up by the world’s media and I have seen articles from many countries,” she said. “This is not just a consumer product like a coffee machine and information should be passed on via health care experts.”

Baby Milk Action explains the boycott:

Nestlé is targeted with the boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network ( IBFAN ) finds it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company (see the  codewatch section for profiles of the different companies to target their malpractice).

As UNICEF has said:

“Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute.”

Martin Grieder, director of BabyNes , said: “We think this could be as successful as Nespresso. That was a major innovation in the coffee market and changed the way people drink coffee.

“This is a major innovation in the way you feed a baby. This is a game changer.”

Why would Nestlé need a game changer in the way baby’s are fed?  This statement alone is enough to cause concern and renew interest in boycotting the company.

“During the previous scandal, the lifestyle message [feeding with baby formula] came from developed markets to developing ones,” spokeswoman Andrea Hüsser told swissinfo.ch .

“The current trend is manipulating young mothers into believing infant feeding is a lifestyle event like drinking Nespresso.”

Nestlé claims a filtration system in the BabyNes machine has tackled the problem of contaminated water being used to mix the powder. “The use of boiled water is therefore not required,” the company stated.

That last statement is simply ludicrous, considering the price tag and power needs of BabyNes.  Seriously, families living in poverty will not be getting this machine at baby showers, nor be able to buy the formula capsules.  In fact, Nestlé has stated that most of the profits will come from formula capsule sales.  The only women using this product will be living in conditions where water contamination is not an issue.  Get real Nestlé!

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