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Ukraine designates Nestle as 'international sponsor of war'

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 2, 2023 1:42 PM 2 min read
A Nestle KitKat bar in a photo taken on Oct. 9, 2023. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) added Nestle to its list of "international sponsors of war," for its continued business in Russia, the agency's press service announced on Nov. 2.

Swiss-owned Nestle is the largest publicly owned food company in the world, doing business in 187 countries. It produces a large variety of food products and has more than 2,000 brands within its company portfolio.

As of 2022, the NACP said that Nestle had seven factories operating in Russia that employed 7,000 people. The Russian market accounted for around 2% of its global revenue. Nestle has yet to release financial numbers for 2022, which the NACP alleged was an attempt to escape from international pressure.

Nestle previously announced in March 2022 that it would halt its operations in Russia- with the caveat that it would continue to provide the country with "essential products" such as baby formula.

However, the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) reported in February 2023 that Russian markets were still full of typical Nestle products, such as "Nescafe, Bystrow brand breakfast cereals, Maggi soups and bouillon cubes, Purina pet food, pralines, and chocolate bars."

In addition, the NACP alleged that Nestle has continued to covertly import technical equipment into Russia to "further develop its business" there.

An undated statement on Nestle's website declares that the company "stand(s) with the people of Ukraine and our 5,500 employees there. To date, Nestle has delivered more than CHF 20 million ($22 million) in product and monetary contributions to local humanitarian organizations in Ukraine and to help those displaced by the war in neighboring countries."

It also added that Nestle has "drastically reduced our portfolio in Russia" and "halted non-essential imports and exports into and out of Russia."

The "international sponsor of war" title is designed to be "a powerful reputational tool," the NACP explains on its website.

The NACP aims to encourage the exit of international business from Russia, reducing the country's "financial and technological ability to kill Ukrainians."

It has added numerous well-known Western businesses to the list, including PepsiCO, Bacardi, Mars, Proctor & Gamble, and many others.

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