Rising oil prices and slow growth in industrialised countries meant that we needed to respond to a radically changed marketplace. In 1977, we made our second venture outside the food industry by acquiring Alcon Laboratories Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of pharmaceutical and ophthalmic products.
In the 1970s, declining rates of breastfeeding led a number of organisations to raise concerns about the marketing practices of breast milk substitute manufacturers - including Nestlé - in developing countries. This resulted in the Infant Formula Action Coalition launching a boycott of our products in 1977 in the United States. This boycott was dropped in 1984.
In 1981 the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code for the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (“WHO Code”) and recommended that its Member States implement it. Nestlé was the first company to develop policies based on the WHO Code and apply them across our entire operations in developing countries.
An improved bottom line allowed us to make new acquisitions, including a public offer of USD 3 billion for the American food giant, Carnation. At the time, this was one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the food industry.
The Nespresso story began in 1986 with a simple idea: enable anyone to create the perfect cup of espresso coffee, just like a skilled barista.
The Italian brand Buitoni, in Sansepolcro, became part of our portfolio in 1988. Nestled in the hills of Tuscany, Casa Buitoni is the symbol of the brand’s ongoing commitment to quality, creativity, and tradition.
In 1988, a group of organisations in the United Kingdom launched a new boycott against Nestlé. Later, as a result of our inclusion in the responsible investment index FTSE4Good in 2011, the United Reformed Churches ended their support for this boycott. By this time, a number of other significant stakeholders had already ended their support for it, including the General Synod of the Church of England, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Methodist Ethical Investment Committee.
The first half of the 1990s were favourable for Nestlé with the opening up of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as China – good news for a company with such far-flung and diverse interests.