Nestlé will suspend “the vast majority” of its sales in Russia

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LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) – Nestlé will suspend sales of a wide range of brands in Russia, including KitKat and Nesquik chocolate bars, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy slams the world’s biggest food company for its continued presence in the country.

Affected products, also including pet food and coffee, account for the “vast majority of volume and sales” in Russia, which totaled 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.82 billion) in 2021, said a Nestlé spokesperson.

The Swiss company had already halted non-essential imports and exports to Russia and also halted all advertising and capital investment in the country and said it would donate profits from Russia to Ukrainian relief efforts.

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Western companies in Russia are trying to supply essential food and medicine while facing pressure to cut all ties with Moscow. Read more

More than 400 companies have withdrawn from Russia since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, leaving behind assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Zelenskiy said Nestlé had not done enough to live up to its “Good Food, Good Life” slogan by continuing to operate in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent troops to Ukraine in what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country. Ukraine and the West say Putin has launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever (ULVR.L) and Procter & Gamble (PG.N), continue to supply basic nutrition and hygiene items in Russia, such as milk and diapers.

French competitor Danone (DANO.PA) said on Wednesday it would continue local production in Russia of essential dairy and infant nutrition products.

Danone said it ceased all other imports and exports – including Evian water – and halted all investments, including advertising, brand activations and consumer promotions in Russia. The company also said it does not take any money, dividends or profits from its business in Russia. Read more

Zelenskiy told French lawmakers on Wednesday that French companies must exit the Russian market. Read more

Nestlé said it would continue to pay its roughly 7,000 employees in Russia, where it has six factories that make products such as ready meals, drinks and pet food.

Nestlé also said it stands with the people of Ukraine and its 5,800 employees in the country.

In the past, Nestlé has faced criticism from activist groups and governments over issues such as the manufacture of bottled water, the decision to stay in South Africa during apartheid and the marketing of infant formula.

Ahead of its move on Wednesday, Nestlé was denounced by Ukrainian politicians as well as the activist group “Anonymous”, which also called for a boycott of the products.

Jaideep Prabhu, professor of marketing at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, told Reuters “There is a history of protest against Nestlé.”

“Nestlé is much more front and center than P&G (PG.N) and Unilever (ULVR.L) when it comes to letting people know they make their products,” he said. . “Nestlé’s logos are highly visible on its products.”

Nestlé shares closed down 1.6%.

($1 = 0.9346 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Richa Naidu in London; edited by Jason Neely, Bernadette Baum and Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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