Water: Nestlé’s Gold

I usually have conflicting feelings about private companies. I don’t totally agree with the food industry, oil and mining companies and clothing companies.  I think those companies can do much better in their practices keeping in mind their impact on environment and society.

I am aware that we are living in a consumerism world and I have to admit  I consume many of those big brands products. However, I am now very careful when shopping as I am aware of what is it behind those companies and how they do their products.

As economist I understand that companies are made to make profit, that they should minimize cost in order to maximize their profit, that they should take any advantage they see out there to innovate and create more businesses but I can NEVER agree with them when all these economic principles are above humanity.

I have seen and read many cases in which private companies not only destroy the environment but also have a negative impact on local communities in where their businesses are located. This time it was a documentary called ”Who owns our water?” that shocked me.

The Documentary is about Nestlé, the world’s largest food company and the the 27th largest company in the world.  Do you know how do they make their products and their profit?

This documentary revealed serious facts about Nestlé that shocked me (this documentary talks only about water but keep in mind Nestlé produces other large number of products). I knew already many cases in which Nestlé was criticized because of its bad practices but I had no idea about their very profitable business: Water.

The fist example is about a water plant Nestlé built near Denver, Colorado, from which it extracts spring water and bottles it under the name of Arrowhead. Nestlé pays roughly 250.000 dollars a year in the form of compensation to the municipality for about 64 million galons of water they extract from its plant. But do you know how much profit they get after selling Arrowhead water? 185 million dollars….. Is that fair?

The second and very sad example is in South Africa, where Nestlé built a water plant not far from Pretoria. It extracts water and bottle it under the name of Pure Life. There are few villages surrounding Pure Life’s water plant where people live in extreme poverty. People there live with less that 1 dollar a day and don´t have access to clean and drinking water. They have to walk to catch some water, which is in some cases contaminated.

Paradoxically, just crossing a tunel Pure Life’s water plant is located. Most of the people from these villages work in Pure Life’s water plant. Nestlé gives them 1 bottle of water to hydrate themselves but they take it back home and share it with their families. A bottle of water cost around 1 euro and these people clearly can not afford it. Do you think that is fair?

In addition, the documentary reveled that Nestlé was found guilty on espionage in countries like Colombia and Brazil, where there was some criticism about its bad practices.

The documentary is about 45 minutes long, a bit long for some of you but I recommend you to watch it.

The documentary really angered me, I got very upset and frustrated but  I got even more upset when I saw an interview to Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck saying that water should be privatized and commercialized, and that water is not a human right. He also is a friend of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).

Some of his thoughts were:

”Man is now of the position of being able to provide some balance to Nature”

”Organic is not the best…. no one has died from eating GMOs”

”Water as a human right is an extreme solution. Water is a foodstuff like any other and as any other food stuff it should have a market value”

It was clear from the interview that for him profit goes way beyond humanity and he was very sure and proud of what he was saying.

Please check the video yourself and make your own judgments. I just can say that I feel sad, disappointed and frustrated.

Do you also think that having access to clean and drinking water is not a human right? Is it fair to see these kind of pictures?

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Source: Taringa

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Source: Taringa

If you want to know more about Nestlé’s bad practices and criticism read this article: Nestlé: Corporate Rap Sheet. Nestlé controversy and criticism is not only related to its water business.

Just to let you know Nestlé water brands are the following:

Arrowhead, Aqua Spring, Calistoga, Deer Park, Deep Spring, Ice Mountain, Glaciar, Klosterquelle, Nestle Wellness, Nestle Pure Life, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Perrier, S. Pellegrino, S. Barnardo, Water Line and Zephyrhills.

You can see also other post related to water such as:

SAFE AGUA: Design students working on sustainable development [English]

El agua está en todo. Concienticémonos! [Spanish]

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