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Reaction Paper on Nestle: Infant Formula Case

Autor:   •  October 18, 2015  •  Term Paper  •  1,024 Words (5 Pages)  •  971 Views

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Reaction Paper on Nestle Infant Formula Case

For over four decades, a battle persists between the Switzerland based food and nutrition giant, Nestle and a group of health activist organizations, caused by the disputes on Nestle’s promotion on infant formula products, which was accused encouraging consumers to replace the breastfeeding with its products. In 1970s, collision aggravated when Nestle faced criticisms for its aggressive marketing strategy on infant formula products in emerging markets in Africa, Latin America, Mid-East and Asia, where most countries are having problems of poor sanitary conditions, severe poverty and high illiteracy. Evidences show that women in these countries are generally unaware of the dangers of mixing unclean water with the infant formula and some women diluted the infant formula excessively, which led to high rate of malnutrition and mortality in infant of these countries. Nestle responded to this criticism with emphasizing that the root causes of such an issue were actually poverty, lack of food, ignorance and poor sanitation. Also, Nestle claimed that infant formula products are needed as a supplement to the mother’s milk, especially considering the facts that mothers in these areas may have problems that prohibited breastfeeding, such as insufficient breast milk, infectious diseases, etc. However, the criticism were concentrated on Nestle’s perverse sales tactics such as using mild nurse and mother craft workers. Pseudo-saleswomen without healthcare licenses wearing nurses’ attires were sent to hospitals, clinics and households to instruct new parents on the benefits of using the infant formula products. (Solomon 1981; Moorhead 2007; Krasny 2012; Muller 2013)

This reaction paper examines the ethicality of abovementioned marketing strategy of Nestle based on a framework of Ethical Decision Making (EDM) introduced by Brooks & Dunn 2012. According to Brooks & Dunn, no single ethical model is sufficient to evaluate the ethicality of sophisticated cases in real world. Therefore, “a practical, comprehensive, multifaceted framework for ethical decision making” called EDM was is introduced. This framework illustrated an ethical decision making process from preliminary decision to final decision. A “Full Ethical Analysis” consolidates three major ethical theories: Consequentialism, Deontology, and Virtue Ethics. (See figure below)

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Before apply the EDM framework to the Nestle’s case, this reaction paper identifies some of the key ethical modules. Nestle is apparently the active agent in this case, whereas the consumers are passive agents. The other active agent could be the health activist organizations such as INFACT (Infant Formula Action Council), but this paper mainly focuses on actions taken by Nestle. The actions took by Nestle in this case are that it promoted the infant formula products in developing countries by all means in order to seize profits and market shares, regardless of the fact of its promotion could misguide local parents on infant feeding and lead to negative results such as undermine breastfeeding or misuse of the infant formula. The consequences of Nestle’s choice was that on one hand, Nestle gained almost half of the market shares and tremendous profits in the emerging market. On the other hand, the high rate of malnutrition and mortality of infant in those countries was attributed to its promotion and ultimately incurred massive criticism and event boycotts to the company.


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