Last week I came across this story on Treehugger about Nestle and its corporate practice of drawing water from a source in Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. Nestle is pulling 3.6 million liters a day out of the ground around Guelph, Ontario and actually got a governmental exemption from the tough water restrictions due to drought in the area. Thankfully environmental campaigners noticed and notified the authorities.
We all know by now that the war on our water resources has only just started. Corporation’s are key players in this war for resources and need to adhere to the rules of responsible business practice in my view.
I would wish Nestle would engage with their stakeholders properly on this topic. I imagine they are intending to sell more bottled water in Canada in the future and are keen to keep up their positive brand image. But looking at this story it seems that Nestle has not really learned from the numerous scandals and that they still do not have their business under control they way they would like to. It is becoming obvious that Nestle is not close to meeting their commitments and to create a shared value (as stated on their CSV website).
On the contrary. It seems that Nestle is not interested in following these rules, at least in Canada. It is paying the Ontario government $0.00000371 for each litre water which it is selling for $3.99 in a shop close by. Obviously these are not the final costs for the bottled water product that ends up on our shelves but you can be sure that their profit margin will still be astronomical.
The recent weeks has seen some interesting stakeholder pressure action by Greenpeace pressuring Nestle and its brand KitKat to discontinue buying palm oil from the palm oil supplier Sinar Mas . Sinar Mas, Greenpeace claims, is involved in illegal rain forest clearance in Indonesia.
In a recent post I was highly critical of the shock approach Greenpeace has decided to go with. This is the post: What the Greenpeace Nestle KitKat campaign is missing
Todays post is a follow up post on the results this campaign produced and my view on whether this campaign was a success or not.
But was the campaign really a success for the promotion of Sustainable Palm Oil production?
I believe that the campaign was not as successful as it could have been. Why? Well, how will you remember this campaign? Will you remember it as a campaign that helped the orang-utans in the Indonesian rainforest and promoting sustainable palm oil practice or will you remember it as a a social media case study on how to not do social media?
I will unfortunately remember it as a campaign on how to not do social media and this is a real shame.
For sustainable palm oil to be the only real palm oil option it is crucial that companies such as Nestle and Cargill (palm oil supplier for Nestle) are investing heavily in the availability of sustainable palm across the globe. This is the problem with sustainable palm oil. We simply do not have enough of it available.
The Greenpeace ‘shocker’ campaign has not helped in my opinion as it mostly created a hostile environment between consumers, NGO’s and companies. We need to do better if we really want to change the way these companies do their business. We need to engage and help companies do the right choices. This is our duty as modern stakeholders!
This week has been a very interesting week for campaigners. Many of you might have heard that Greenpeace has hit hard on Nestle and its KitKat product with allegations that Nestlé SA buys palm oil from companies destroying the Indonesian rain forests in order to plant oil palms. The video it self is very graphic but brings the point across like not many videos I have seen.
Here is the video (but if you can’t see blood do not watch this):
My opinion and criticism
I like the fact that Greenpeace is trying to make the world a better place and is going against the horrible palm oil practices. But there are limits how far to go. And I believe that this campaign video is going just a little bit to far and is missing a key ingredient.
I am not talking about the fact that you are seeing blood or anything similar but I am skeptical about the actual information aspect of all of this. This video in my opinion can be compared to the doom and gloom climate change ads and videos that we all hate. They are graphic but they do not really serve the purpose of being informative and promoting the most effective action by everyone to change our ways.
The same in my opinion is true for this Greenpeace campaign video. Instead of being overly graphic and shocking they should have included more context and information on which we could all act on. And not just stop buying KitKat and boycotting Nestle. We as stakeholders need to understand the overall circumstances in order to be able to make a sound judgment in my opinion. We need to know the reason why palm oil is so popular, what the situation in the producing countries is, what the Nestle point of view for not keeping control of its supply chain is, etc. This is what Greenpeace should have focused on.
So my message to Greenpeace is: Consumer activism is good but for the sake of transparency, progress and corporate accountability please also provide more information on how to solve this dilemma from a company perspective. This campaign is just like the campaigns of the past. It is time to evolve in my opinion, time to make these campaigns more effective for us as stakeholders and the involved companies.