Nestlé’s Selling You Your Water!
By Hwaa Irfan
Joining the global profile of contemptible international companies is the ever-friendly that provides for our taste-buds more than our nutritional well-being is the Swiss company Nestlé. Its slogan Good Food, Good Life has been coming at a price, and to top it a, the price of water – a commodity that they have gone down in history by stating that water is not a human right!
Nestlé is approaching the complete takeover of the water supplies in parts of South Africa, Ethiopia, and Pakistan, depriving the locals of clean water, and is tapping at Canadian resources.
Nestlé, the biggest food and beverage corporation in our world, operates in 86 countries. Nestlé takes what is there, repackages it, and sells it at a much higher price to the consumer. Nestlé’s annual sales of bottled water alone total some CHF 10 billion.
Case: Arkansas, US
July of 2010, Nestlé was given permission to pump water from the Arkansas River to be bottled at a Denver plant and sold under their Arrowhead Springs label. Not a spring, are underground mineralized water resources, but a river. With time, they bought up the land around the river, and with the help of the Chaffee Board of Commissioners and the Aurora City Council, Nestlé obtained bottling rights.
Case: Mount Shasta, US
Nestlé did it again in Mount Shasta, N. California. Nestlé sealed a deal for the town’s water rights for 50 years…with an option for 50 more. The locals had less than a week to view the proposal and then were unable to vote. The decision was made with only five members of the McCloud Community Service District board whose legal representative an attorney was paid for by Nestlé.
The locals soon discovered that the water costs 6/100 of the price of a gallon of water to be sold retail for the price of a gallon of gasoline.
It took the locals fury to get an independent analysis of Nestlé’s proposed plan, which proved there would be severe economic and environmental repercussions and a court ruling to overturn the decision terminating Nestlé’s claim. Next Nestlé went to Sacremento.
First Nestlé locates an economically weak region, buys up land related to the target water source, and then a little bit of insider short-sighted politics.
In developing countries Nestlé Pure Life is purified groundwater, enriched with a Nestlé mixture of minerals, the world’s top-selling brand of bottled water. Groundwater levels have dropped drastically in the areas surrounding their factories in Pakistan, their test market for Nestlé Pure Life, and village fountain water has become foul-smelling sludge according to journalist Res Gehriger.
Hs it not occurred to Nestlé that if they keep this up, there will be long ranged diminished returns, meaning that their profits in this regard will slump! This is of course assuming that this is the only intention behind draining the earth of its water, just as Monsanto poisons us with its GMO products and seeds.
Actinaid has been following up on Nestlé’s activities in Pakistan. In February 2005, the Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) served a notice to the management of Nestlé in Pakistan for selling its brand ‘Pure Life’ without proper authorisation.
Questions began in 2003, when a local paper published an interview with Mr. Kahlown, chair of Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) that claimed Nestlé Pure Life and AVA was contaminated and devoid of minerals. According to Actionaid:
“On November 30, 2004, the Sindh High Court restrained Nestlé from initiating any commercial or industrial activity, including setting up of a bottling plant on the 20 acre plot leased to it by the Sindh government in the area near Karachi.”
Nestlé leased the site on October 25, 2003, and were ready to extract 306 million litres of water annually for the sale of 228 million litres of bottled water. The court ruled:
“No civilized society shall permit an unfettered exploitation of its natural resources.”
When one refers to the oft-repeated reality of disease in developing countries due to lack of access to clean water, one must factor in what companies like Nestlé have done to contribute to the problem. In 1995, UNDP counted Pakistan as a country with one of the highest water potential per person out of 130 countries. In 2003, that standing dropped to out of 180 countries.
In 2003, Nestlé bought property in Karachi to extract 306 million litres of water annually. This water to be extracted was designated for US forces at Afghanistan’s Kandahar Air Base. It was a property dedicated to education and health services since 1999, and the Sindh. The High Court (Karachi) held that the water resources in the aquifers would be diminished and would prevent the plaintiffs’ right to use the underground water according to their genuine needs. In Pakistan, groundwater is the main source of drinking water. The same pattern of politricking in the U.S is repeated in Pakistan, with Nestlé having direct contact with top politicians.
Bottled water has not failed to increase profits for the companies that provide them, as consumption continues to increase as it has done for the last 30 years. Companies like have exploited consumer demand to the point that Nestlé can tell us that water is not a human right.
Profits for Nestle, Pakistan shot up in 2012 as Pakistan’s rising middle class can afford it. Buying themselves out of the future of water security, and increasing lack of access to clean water for the working classes might be a personal choice that a of cannot afford! The winner all round is Nestle with net revenues up 22% for 2012. As the largest food and consumer goods company in Pakistan, whatever the consequences are, Nestle is content with its role in our lifestyle changes!
One of the lessons that reducing groundwater levels provide is that we cannot take more than what we give.
“Bottled Life” http://www.bottledlifefilm.com/index.php/the-story.html
Pangburn, DJ “Nestlé Corporation Vs. America’s Water Supply” http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/32828/nestle-corporation-vs-americas-water-supply/
Rosemann, N. Drinking Water Crisis in Pakistan and the Issue of Bottled Water The Case of Nestlé’s ‘Pure Life’” http://www.alliancesud.ch/en/policy/water/downloads/nestle-pakistan.pdf
Tirmizi, F. “Corporate results: Profits soar at Nestle Pakistan as margins rise again” http://tribune.com.pk/story/509211/corporate-results-profits-soar-at-nestle-pakistan-as-margins-rise-again/