Nestlé responds to questions regarding Mugabe link

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 29th September 2009

The world’s largest food manufacturer, Swiss-based Nestlé, has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons this week thanks to a link to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Nestle has admitted that up to 15 per cent of its milk supply from Zimbabwe comes from a farm owned by the wife of controversial President Robert Mugabe. However, they maintain that the crisis in the Zimbabwean dairy sector has left them with little alternative.

Nestlé began receiving milk from one of her farms early in the year after half of their contracted suppliers went out of business in the country. The company does not, however, have a contract with Mrs Mugabe or the Gushungo Dairy Estate that she owns.

The company indicates that they are facing a catch-22 type situation because of a lack of suppliers in the region.

“Had Nestle decided to close down its operations in Zimbabwe, the company would have triggered further food shortages and hundreds of job losses among its employees and milk suppliers in an already very difficult situation,”  Nestlé said in a statement sent to the BBC.

Mrs Grace Mugabe is subject to sanctions from the EU, but Switzerland is not part of the EU and, consequently, Nestlé is not bound by those conditions.