Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company, announced the suspension of the vast majority of its manufacturing in Russia, citing mounting pressure on multinational corporations to leave the country entirely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
A spokesperson for Nestle said the company is in the process of identifying solutions for its factories and employees in Russia, who will continue to be paid, and that the move means Nestle will suspend most of its pre-war sales volume and production volume in Russia.
“As the war in Ukraine rages on, our activities in Russia will focus on providing essential food, such as infant food and medical/hospital nutrition — not on profit,” Nestle said in a statement. “This approach is consistent with our mission and values. It upholds the principle of ensuring the fundamental right to food.”
In a live-streamed speech to thousands of protesters in Switzerland’s capital of Bern on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized Nestle for continuing to do business in Russia. Last week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted that CEO Mark Schneider has shown no awareness and that he hopes to change his mind soon.
Nestle has been slowly decreasing its footprint in Russia since the beginning of the war, first halting advertising and capital investments and then, earlier this month, halting shipments of non-essential products such as Nespresso coffee capsules and San Pellegrino water. It has continued to sell baby food, cereals, and some pet food, but has stated that its remaining activities in Russia do not generate a profit.
“While we do not expect to make a profit or pay any related taxes in Russia for the foreseeable future,” the company says, “any profit will be donated to humanitarian relief organisations.”
Nestle has over 7,000 employees and six factories in Russia, where it manufactures products such as confectionery and coffee, and generated about 2% of total revenue there last year.
Nestle is not the only food company that has kept some of its operations in Russia. British rivals such as Unilever Plc and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc, as well as US competitors such as Kellogg Co. and PepsiCo Inc., continue to supply Russian consumers with some essential food and drink.