The non-governmental action group Cameroon Link has officially joined the International Nestlé Boycott Committee (INBC), making Cameroon the first country in Africa, and the twentieth country worldwide, to launch a Nestlé boycott.

The boycott, which focuses on the company’s coffee product Nescafe, is a protest about Nestlé’s aggressive marketing of baby milk formula in health facilities in the developing world. Many believe that the food behemoth is contravening the guidelines in The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (1981), undermining government implementation of the same and indirectly causing the deaths of infants for whom infant formula is not the best feeding option.

In areas of poor sanitation and water supplies, the making up of infant formula can often increase the chances of babies developing life-threatening conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory diseases.  

Nestlé meanwhile maintains that it is acting in accordance with the Code and vice-president of corporate affairs, Niels Christiansen, told “There is no visible impact of boycotts on sales.”

Nevertheless, president of Cameroon Link, James Achanyi-Fontem, said the boycott had a lot of potential power: “If every Cameroonian joins in this boycott, it may act as a powerful tool which may very quickly bring changes to the marketing in Cameroon.”
Other campaigners have also welcomed the news of Cameroon’s launch. Cameroon Link is a partner group of UK-based Baby Milk Action, where campaigns and networking coordinator Mike Brady commented: “When Nestlé malpractice is exposed we are often able to bring about change. Acting locally really does have a global impact.”

The Nestlé boycott is also currently active in: Australia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and USA.

For a feature on the wider Nestlé and formula issue, click here.