To buy or not to buy

Ethical shoppers in Britain face something of a dilemma – again. The giant Nestlé food corporation has been granted the fair trade label for its Kit Kat chocolate-coated wafers, while at the same time, campaigning group Baby Milk Action has added fair trade Kit Kat to its list of boycotted Nestlé products. Nestlé products have been boycotted for many years because of the irresponsible way the company markets its baby foods in developing countries.

Harriet Lamb of the Fairtrade Foundation believes that the significant volumes of cocoa that go into making Kit Kat (over a billion bars are sold each year in Britain) ‘will open whole new possibilities for farmers, giving them a more sustainable livelihood and the chance to plan for a better future’. But Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Co-ordinator at Baby Milk Action, has his doubts: ‘When Nestlé is on the record as saying that charitable contributions should benefit its shareholders, we should not be too excited by one of the world’s most boycotted companies pursuing something like this.

‘We will add Nestlé fair trade Kit Kats to the list of boycott products and recommend that anyone who is concerned about promoting real change for people in developing countries support the boycott and buy their products from companies with positive business values, not just token initiatives. There are companies whose entire output is fair trade certified, after all.’

mag cover This article is from the January 2010 issue of New Internationalist.
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