We are dedicated to helping babies to get the best possible start in life and to supporting parents during the early years of their children's lives. We have embraced this mission since 1867, when our founder, pharmacist Henri Nestlé, first developed his Farine Lactée infant food, saving the life of an infant who could not be breastfed.
We have a long history of providing science-led nutrition for babies - for some, it is their first-ever food; for others, their sole source of nutrition.
Nutrition is a vital element of caring for infants and children, and we have an important duty to play our part responsibly when we are talking to parents, to retail partners, to healthcare professionals, to regulators, to suppliers, and to government about this. We comply with the WHO Code and World Health Assembly resolutions as implemented by national governments everywhere in the world, as a minimum.
We also know that nutrition isn't the whole picture for parents, and are committed to supporting parents beyond our products, with the knowledge, services and reassurance that they need along their parenting journey.
Providing products and services that support parents in raising the next generation is a privilege.
Good nutrition, from pre-conception, throughout pregnancy and for the early part of a child's life is crucial. The early years of a child's life offer a critical window of opportunity to shape their health and eating patterns for the future. Find out more in The Early Years: Foundations for life, health and learning report.
At Nestlé, we comply with all applicable regulations in the countries where we operate, and in addition to this we comply with our own strict policy and robust compliance and governance system which are in place to hold our actions to account.
We open ourselves up to scrutiny from independent organizations such as FTSE4Good and ATNI. All employees in our infant formula business complete mandatory WHO Code training upon hiring, followed by regular refresher courses. If there is any evidence of non-compliance, we take swift and decisive action.
We also advocate for laws and regulations supporting the needs of mothers and children. FTSE4Good and the global Access To Nutrition Index have recognised our own rules and how we apply them.
Compliance and transparency are important to us because they lead to trust.
We fully support the WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by continued breastfeeding along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by a healthcare professional or health authority.
We support and encourage breastfeeding and have breastfeeding rooms for employees in our Gatwick and York sites. Globally, we have collaborated with other organisations to set up nearly 6,000 breastfeeding rooms in communities where we operate around the world.
We recognise that our responsibility goes beyond what were common marketing standards in the past. We have a global commitment to support and protect breastfeeding by implementing our policy on responsible breastmilk substitute marketing.
We use the phrase 'breastmilk is best' wherever possible on packaging and in other communications and we don’t idealise infant milk.
We will only market our products to complement or supplement breastfeeding when necessary, never to compete with it.
We were the first to follow the World Health Organization Code regulating the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats. The Code requires all communications to go through medical and regulatory approval.
We were one of the architects of the UK's Infant Nutrition Industry Code of Practice. We were the first to be included in the FTSE4Good Index, the only index for responsible business, setting out clear criteria for marketing breastmilk substitutes. We've met the criteria continuously through independent assessments of our practices, carried out by PwC in two countries every 18 months.
We publish the external reports on WHO-code compliance on our website, together with our responses and our internal audits.
We want to support parents as they make an informed choice on how to feed their families. We want parents to feel respected and at peace with these choices - whether that's how they feed their baby (breastmilk, formula or combination feeding), their choice of weaning journey, or any supplements they use.
Parents make decisions on how to feed their babies based on a number of different factors. If they choose or need to formula feed, we're proud to play our part.
We believe that there is a legitimate market for infant formula when a safe alternative to breastmilk is wanted or needed.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: We believe that breastfeeding is the ideal nutritional start for babies and we fully support the World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by the introduction of adequate nutritious complementary foods along with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age. We also recognise that breastfeeding is not always an option for parents. We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional about how to feed your baby and seek advice on when to introduce complementary feeding. If you choose not to breastfeed, please remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse and has social and financial implications. Introducing partial bottle-feeding will reduce the supply of breast milk.
We know that, for all its joys, parenting is not always easy. As part of our commitment to support families in the early years, we launched The Parenting Index in February 2021. The Index is a first-of-its-kind global study that uses universal issues impacting parents today to compare the ease of parenting in 16 countries around the world, including the UK.
We are using the Index to create a roadmap for change that will make a real difference. It will support parents with insightful, relevant advice and services that go beyond nutrition solutions.
As part of our efforts to help parents provide children with the best start in life, we implemented a more inclusive, gender-neutral parental support policy for our employees. The policy includes an additional four-week fully paid parental leave for the second caregiver, to allow parents to spend more time with their new child.
Our 'Parent Pals' mentoring scheme, at our York and Gatwick sites, supports new parents returning to work by helping them become part of a network where they can share experiences and get support.
We also became a trusted partner of 'My Family Care'. This offers additional parental support to new parents as well as further guidance for their line managers.