Marketing of breast-milk substitutes

nutritional education

Marketing of breast-milk substitutes

What is the issue?

We believe that breast milk is the best food for infants. When mothers and families, together with advice from their healthcare professionals, decide that optimal breastfeeding is not possible, infant formula – the only breast milk substitute (BMS) recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – plays a vital role in providing essential nutrients to infants.

banner image

Why is it important?

We are a leading manufacturer of BMS. To live up to our responsibilities to parents and to support them to make healthy choices during the critical first 1,000 days, we are committed to the highest standards of responsible marketing of BMS.


  • Ongoing
  • (globally) Continue to strengthen our internal BMS marketing practices; investigate any concerns raised with us, and take corrective action where needed.
  • (globally) Promote the importance of good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life, provide support for parents to enable them to make healthy choices during this time, and support breastfeeding

Supporting families to make the right choices for their children’s health.


Building a trusted and respected brand, complying with regulation and guidelines.

banner image

What are we doing about it?

At Nestlé, we recognise that natural breastfeeding is the best way to feed babies, and we encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. For mothers who choose not to breastfeed, or to breastfeed in combination with formula milk, we provide a range of BMS. We ensure that these products are marketed responsibly, and in accordance with all regulations.

Nestlé has a global commitment to market BMS responsibly. We comply with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (pdf, 1Mb) implemented by national governments everywhere in the world. We have been independently recognised as having robust systems in place to responsibly market BMS.

Every year, as part of a continuous improvement process, Bureau Veritas assesses our practices in two to three countries. In addition, FTSE4Good commissions PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to independently verify our BMS marketing practices against a set of 104 criteria in higher-risk countries every 18 months. The reports of these assessments are publicly available on our website.

Globally, we have implemented stringent Code compliance policies and procedures through the Nestlé Policy and Instructions for Implementation of the WHO Code (pdf, 2Mb).

We are proud to be the only infant formula manufacturer included in the FTSE4Good Index since 2011. FTSE4Good is the only responsible investment index that has defined clear criteria on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, and these criteria are subject to an independent regular verification assessment. FTSE4Good has helped us to strengthen our commitments to marketing BMS responsibly and we value the higher standards the FTSE4Good BMS criteria have set for the entire industry.

In the UK, we ensure that our communications and marketing materials comply with the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 2007, which derive from the European regulations to enact the WHO Code.

Supporting employees to breastfeed

To support and encourage our employees to breastfeed, we opened a new nursing room in our UK head office in Gatwick in August 2014. The opening coincided with International Breastfeeding Week. This is the second such room to open in the UK, after the opening of the breastfeeding room in York in 2012.

The new nursing room has a comfortable chair, a changing unit and a fridge for storing expressed milk. It’s designed for breastfeeding mums who have returned to work from maternity leave, and need a private room to express and store their milk. The room can also be used by mums who are on maternity leave and visiting the office, and for pregnant employees who need a rest during the day.

icon right  

What’s next?

Nestlé Nutrition will continue to promote the importance of breastfeeding as the best start in life for babies. As part of our strengthening of our internal policies, we will provide ongoing training for our employees and support for our external partners to ensure compliance and understanding of our policies and responsibilities.