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Transparency on advocacy, lobbying and industry associations

Our global advocacy approach

Creating Shared Value lies at the very heart of how we do business at Nestlé. Our business approach is built on the conviction that business can be a force for good, by simultaneously creating value for shareholders and for society at large.

We believe that the private sector has an important role to play in helping build healthy lives and a healthy planet. We work alongside all interested parties (industry, governments, civil society, etc.) to foster an open dialogue and support multi-stakeholders' actions to help deliver bold positive outcomes for both business and society. We promote transparency and work for a continuous improvement in all what we do.

We support the development of science-based regulations. We leverage our global R&D network and scientific knowledge in our interactions with policy makers wherever appropriate. We favor transparent scientific dialogues with all experts from all parties.

The long-term commitments we outline in our Creating Shared Value Report (pdf, 15 Mb) shape our global advocacy approach and priorities.

Setting our advocacy priorities

Our advocacy priorities are set to deliver our business objectives and commitments. We use our business and scientific knowledge and resources to move our priorities forward to create value for shareholders and for society.

Multiple considerations shape our advocacy priorities, amongst which:

  • Company’s long-term business and societal strategy
  • Internal cross-functional alignment on the themes to focus on at global level, and their regional and local 'cascading' to fit the business context and ensure relevance (combined top down and bottom up perspectives)
  • Internal policies and guidelines (please refer to our related policies and guidelines)
  • External consultations with / listening to key stakeholders

This enables us to respond with relevance and consistency to internal and external business and societal expectations.

Our current advocacy priorities

Nestlé commits to ambitious sustainability goals to advance the health of our planet, drive societal progress in the communities we serve, and support a sustainable healthy food system.

We bring affordable, safe, and high-quality nutrition to everyone, regardless of income level, taking advantage of our long-standing presence around the world.

This is reflected in the advocacy priorities we are currently carrying out:

Nutrition and health: Inspiring people to lead healthier lives

Nutrition is at the heart of our business. We advocate for sustainable diets for all. Our advocacy themes include:

  • Food safety for all
  • Product formulation - this includes reducing public health sensitive nutrients (sugars, sodium and saturated fats) and increasing positives such as whole grains, vegetables and micronutrients
  • Transparent nutrition information to consumers (on-pack labelling and digital)
  • Responsible marketing to children
  • Micronutrient fortification to help address under-nutrition
  • Good nutrition in the first 1,000 days and supporting governments and Civil Society Organizations in the implementation of the WHO Code and subsequent relevant resolutions in a law
  • Healthy hydration: choose water
  • Promoting in-store and out-of-home healthy food environments

Advocating for a healthy planet (environmental sustainability)

Acting on climate change with action and advocacy to help achieve the 1.5°C target, with focus on:

  • Fighting deforestation
  • Reducing food loss and waste
  • GHG emissions
  • Regenerative agriculture and tree planting
  • Fostering biodiversity
  • Renewable energy
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Effective water policies and stewardship
  • Access to water, sanitation and hygiene

Advocating for resilient communities (social sustainability)

 

  • Enhancing rural development and livelihoods
  • Responsible sourcing
  • Respecting and promoting human rights
  • Promoting decent employment and diversity (gender balance, women empowerment, etc.)
  • Promoting youth employment globally

 

Leadership in advocacy

We support our advocacy approach through a strong stakeholder engagement (industry, civil society organizations, governments, consumer organizations, etc.). Find detailed information on partnerships and collective action.

Our engagement with the consumer goods industry aims at fostering collective action for a positive outcome on people’s health and on the planet. Creating Shared Value and our advocacy priorities guide our leadership role with the industry.

Given our size and geographical presence, we are involved in multiple industry organizations and think tanks at local, regional and global level. We believe in the power of collective action, mainly for challenging topics that no one can achieve on its own (e.g. environmental and social sustainability issues). This is what drives our strong sense of collaboration with the industry and other stakeholders to achieve a positive change.

We hold Board seats in multiple industry organizations. This gives us the opportunity to constructively develop the industry agenda with the aim of advancing the health of people and of our planet, drive societal progress and support a sustainable healthy food system wherever feasible / appropriate.

The following table gives an overview of the Board seats we hold in major organizations (top 30), which play a key role in the positive transformation of the consumer goods industry. This list is not exhaustive:

Organization Nestlé's representative on the Board of Directors / Leadership Councils
World Economic Forum (WEF) CEO of Nestlé
Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) CEO of Nestlé
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) EVP - Global Operations
International Special Dietary Foods Industries (ISDI) Head of Corporate Affairs - Nutrition Business
International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) Head of Global Public Affairs

Organization Nestlé's representative on the Board of Directors / Leadership Councils
FoodDrink Europe (FDE) CEO of Nestlé EMENA
European Manufacturers Brand Association (AIM) CEO of Nestlé EMENA
Food Industry Asia Head of Communications, Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa
Consumer Goods Forum Latin America CEO of Nestlé Americas

Organization Nestlé's representative on the Board of Directors / Leadership Councils
Sustainable Food Policy Alliance - USA CEO of Nestlé USA
Food and Consumer Products of Canada CEO of Nestlé Canada
Conselho Empresarial Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável - CEBDS CEO of Nestlé Brazil
The Mexican Council of the Consumer Products Industry, A.C. - ConMexico CEO of Nestlé Mexico
Food and Beverage Trade Association - ABChile CEO of Nestlé Chile
Food and Beverage Trade Association - COPAL CEO of Nestlé Argentina
National Industry Association of Colombia - ANDI CEO of Nestlé Colombia
Camara Nacional de industriales de la leche – CANILEC Head of Corporate and Public Affairs, Nestlé Mexico

Organization Nestlé's representative on the Board of Directors / Leadership Councils
Food Federation Germany (Lebensmittelverband Deutschland) CEO of Nestlé Germany
Asociación multisectorial de fabricantes y distribuidores (AECOC) CEO of Nestlé Spain
Institut de liaisons des entreprises de consommation (ILEC) - France CEO of Nestlé France
Food and Drink Federation (FDF) - UK CEO of Nestlé UK&I
Unione Italiana Food - Italy Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications of Nestlé Italiana
Federation of the Food and Drink Industries - Czech Republic CEO of Nestlé in Czech Republic
Association of Branded Goods Manufacturers "RusBrand" CEO of Nestlé Russia

Organization Nestlé's representative on the Board of Directors / Leadership Councils
Australian Food and Grocery Council CEO of Nestlé Australia
China Beverage Industry Association (CBIA) CEO of Nestlé China
Consumer Goods Forum in China CEO of Nestlé China
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications of Nestlé India
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications of Nestlé India
Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. - Philippines CEO of Nestlé Philippines
Consumer Goods Council of South Africa CEO of Nestlé South Africa

 

Dealing with consensus and conflicts

As a strong believer in collective action, we always advocate for the highest common denominator with all the organizations we work with. We also work towards achieving consensus.

In circumstances when we do not agree with an agenda or a position of e.g. an industry association, or industry alliance or any of its member companies, we communicate transparently our position, and we reserve our right to act as an individual company and engage independently with public authorities or other stakeholders.

Assessing our involvement in industry and trade organizations

We regularly review our involvement in industry and trade organizations to assess the relevance of our participation versus our strategy and versus the achievements delivered through the organizations we have subscribed to.

The decision to resign from an industry organization is informed by several considerations, amongst which:

  • Nestlé is regularly in opposition with the positions / agendas of the organization (this includes inappropriate lobbying practices)
  • The organization has not delivered the outcome expected for many years
  • Weak governance putting at risk Nestlé’s reputation
  • The evolution of the membership of the organization is not in alignment with Nestlé’s agenda, values and principles.

Advocacy versus lobbying

We make a difference between lobbying and advocacy. We have adopted the following definitions:

Lobbying (source: OECD's Lobbyists, Governments and Public Trust - 2014)
The term generally refers to oral or written communication with a public official to influence legislation, policy or administrative decisions and includes any activity where an attempt is made to influence public decision-making processes. Lobbying can be direct, or indirect (via industry associations or any other third-party entity).

Advocacy (source: Legal Dictionary)
The process or act of supporting a cause or proposal. Nestlé’s advocacy aims to directly and/or indirectly support decision-makers, stakeholders and relevant audiences in the pursuit of a broader positive societal agenda and outcome that are aligned with our business goals framed by our corporate purpose and values and built on science-based evidences.

Additional considerations
In our internal work, we also refer to the following definition and considerations of Transparency International.

Transparency International defines lobbying as "any direct or indirect communication with public officials, political decision-makers or representatives for the purposes of influencing public decision-making and carried out by or on behalf of an organised group. Lobbying can also include direct or indirect attempts to influence public opinion, outside of normal advertising and marketing activity, with a view to impacting public decision making" (TI CPEI 2018, p.35).

Some make a distinction between "lobbying" and "advocacy", suggesting that "lobbying" is intended to change specific legislation whereas "advocacy" is more about increasing the prominence of an issue (e.g. Gates, p.5; Harvard, p.4). Reflecting this, "advocacy" is often the preferred term use by CSOs for their work with legislators; often it appears that CSOs "advocate" and companies "lobby". It then often follows that "lobbying" is seen as bad and "advocacy" as good; the inference is that the distinction depends on the validity of the cause. We find, along with the OECD (Vol2, p.28) that "attempts to distinguish 'good [advocacy]' from 'bad lobbying' are fraught with normative judgement" and this Framework does not make a distinction based on the cause. We conclude, in line with the OECD, that the principal distinction between good and bad lobbying (or good and bad advocacy for that matter) is the process, which we attempt to codify through these five principles of responsible lobbying. It therefore follows that all actors – whether corporate or CSO and whatever their cause – should be held to these same standards.

Examples of local lobbying activities

Over the past two years, the lobbying activities we have carried out through industry associations have included the following topics (not exhaustive):

  • Food Regulations: advertisement, claims, labelling, infant nutrition, product reformulation, taxes on sugars and salt, etc.
  • Supporting circular economy
  • Supporting climate principles
  • Packaging / plastics waste regulations
  • Supporting investment in recycling infrastructures
  • Fighting unfair trading practices
  • Supporting logistics regulations and standardization of processes in the food chain: CO2 emission reductions, lean and green logistics, food waste, etc.
  • Brexit
  • Trade regulations
  • Customs and tariff regulations
  • Supporting industrial strategy, skills and employment, economic importance of food and drink
  • Supporting food safety and traceability systems
  • Veterinary legislations
  • Supporting animal welfare
  • Petfood regulations

Funding of local lobbying activities

Generally, the Company does not carry a specific global budget for lobbying activities. The major lobbying activity is done locally via industry associations to comply with local legislations and contexts. The spending is covered by the annual membership fees paid to these organizations.

Our spending on lobbying (including third parties) is publicly available where it is required by law. For example:

  • In the U.S., we file quarterly reports with the U.S. government outlining which issues we have lobbied in addition to how much money the company spent on those activities. We disclose the percentage of salaries for lobbyists, office space expenses, trade association dues, etc.
  • In Europe, we report on our estimated budget for lobbying activities to the EU Transparency Registry. The amounts we report on relate to the rough estimation of annual gross salaries of the Team based in Brussels and dealing with advocacy.
  • In France, we transparently report the lobbying expenses to the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (EUR 200,000 - EUR 300,000 FY 2018)

Continuous improvement

We look for continuous improvement in all what we do. It is in this spirit that we have engaged with Carnstone on their Responsible Lobbying Framework. This has helped us further understand our stakeholders’ expectations and identify opportunities for strengthening our approach.

Download our Creating Shared Value Progress Report

See performance and reporting
Creating Shared Value Progress Report