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23 March, 2022updated 28 Mar 2022 16:17

Nestlé cuts Russia presence, “essential food” continues

The company had faced criticism from President Zelensky for continuing to operate in Russia.

By Dean Best

Nestlé is to further cut the number of products it sells in Russia, acting after criticism from Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

The world’s largest food maker had been operating in Russia in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Two weeks ago, the company said it would suspend capital investment and stop advertising in Russia – but continue to sell “essential” food products.

Nestlé has been among the businesses to have been criticised by Ukraine’s senior politicians. In recent days, both Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal have gone public with their disapproval, prompting Nestlé to defend its position.

However, today (23 March), a fresh statement emerged from the Swiss giant, announcing new changes to its business in Russia, where it employs 7,000 staff.

“Our activities in Russia will focus on providing essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition – not on making a profit, Nestlé said. “This approach is in line with our purpose and values. It upholds the principle of ensuring the basic right to food.”

The company added: “Going forward, we are suspending renowned Nestlé brands such as KitKat and Nesquik, among others. We have already halted non-essential imports and exports into and out of Russia, stopped all advertising, and suspended all capital investment in the country.

“Of course, we are fully complying with all international sanctions on Russia. While we do not expect to make a profit in the country or pay any related taxes for the foreseeable future in Russia, any profit will be donated to humanitarian relief organisations.”

Asked to detail which products Nestlé was pulling from the Russian market and which the company deemed to be “essential” and remain on sale, a spokesperson told Just Food: “The vast majority of coffee, pet food and also confectionery will be suspended. We are in the process of finding solutions for our factories.

“Essential food is strongly focused on infant food and medical nutrition. On the medical nutrition side, it’s things like infant formula for infants with allergies or tube-feeding foods like Peptamen and Isosource.”

Food multinationals with a presence in Russia have had to weigh up whether to stop doing business in the country. Some have ceased operations, while others have continued in some form.

For more on Just Food’s coverage on how the conflict is affecting the food industry, please visit our dedicated microsite

Understand the impact of the Ukraine conflict from a cross-sector perspective with the Global Data Executive Briefing: Ukraine Conflict

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