Support breastfeeding and protect it by continuing to implement an industry-leading policy to market breast-milk substitutes responsibly
Good nutrition in the first 1000 days, from conception until two years old, is essential for mother and baby. We support the WHO’s recommendation that mothers (who can) should exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of adequate nutritious foods alongside breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.
However, some new mothers may be unable, or choose not, to breastfeed or decide to offer mixed feeding. We want to support these mothers with breast-milk substitutes (BMS) that address infant nutritional needs, as well as science-backed information about what is best for early infant nutrition.
In 2019, we strengthened our commitment to marketing BMS responsibly, training our employees to ensure compliance with the WHO Code. We also installed breastfeeding rooms across our facilities. Read more about it in our 2019 progress report.
We have control and audit systems in place to identify instances of noncompliance with our BMS marketing standards. Based on our compliance data from 2018, we reported a total of 117 instances in 2019, resulting in disciplinary actions (warning letters and dismissals) against 13 people. Seventy percent of incidents involved external trade partners. To achieve transparency on our BMS marketing, we release an annual compliance report (pdf, 903Kb), which is publicly available on our website. This report also acts as a transparency tool for industry peers, leading the way in responsible marketing of BMS.
Fair maternity leave is important for the health of both mother and baby in the first months of infant life. Of 178 countries surveyed by the Global Breastfeeding Collective (pdf, 1Mb), only 21 met paid maternity leave criteria as set by the International Labour Organization. We engage with governments globally to advocate for fairer regulations and protection for new mothers. In December 2019, we announced a new Nestlé Global Parental Support policy. The policy outlines a new minimum of 18 weeks’ leave for primary caregivers, with at least 4 weeks for secondary caregivers. Read more about our new policy.
At Nestlé, we want to offer support for both mothers and babies to receive optimal nutrition in the first 1000 days of life. We have developed a range of products for our global markets designed to support all mothers: from those who are exclusively breastfeeding to those who are combining breastfeeding with formula. We also want to support mothers who are exclusively formula-feeding, either because they cannot breastfeed or because they have decided to move on and explore alternative nutrition options as their baby continues to grow.
One in three mothers is affected by mastitis, an inflammation in breast tissue. For some mothers, it can become so painful that they choose to stop breastfeeding, especially in the first three months. We want to support mothers, helping them to breastfeed for as long as they can and want to. In 2019, we launched Materna Opti-Lac, a product to support breastfeeding mothers. The probiotic solution, which is currently being piloted in Hong Kong, is designed to reduce the risk of breast pain and mastitis during breastfeeding.
The launch of Opti-Lac is the most recent development in our commitment to support the WHO recommendation that mothers should exclusively breastfeed for the first six months.