Nestlé to suspend KitKat and Nesquik sales in Russia after Zelensky’s criticism

Nestlé will halt the sale of a wide range of brands in Russia, including KitKat chocolate bars and Nesquik, amid Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's criticism of the world's biggest food company for its continued presence in the country.

The products affected, also including pet food and coffee, make up the “vast majority of volume and sales” in Russia, which totalled 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.82 billion) in 2021, a Nestlé spokesperson said.

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

Western companies with a presence in Russia have been trying to provide essential food and medicine while also facing pressure to cut all ties with Moscow. Read full story

More than 400 companies have withdrawn from Russia since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, leaving behind assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars in aggregate.

Zelensky 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 sent his troops into Ukraine on what he calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “de-Nazify” the country. Ukraine and the West say Putin launched an unprovoked war of aggression.

Nestlé, PepsiCo, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are continuing to provide basic items for nutrition and hygiene in Russia, such as milk and diapers.

French rival Danone on Wednesday said it would continue local production in Russia of essential dairy and infant nutrition products.

Danone said it had 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 was taking no cash, dividends or profits from its Russian business. Read full story

Zelensky on Wednesday told French legislators that French companies must leave the Russian market. Read full story

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

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

Nestlé has in the past been criticised by activist groups and governments over issues including bottled-water manufacturing, a decision to stay in South Africa during apartheid and a scandal involving baby formula marketing.

Before its move Wednesday, Nestlé was denounced by Ukrainian politicians as well as hactivist group Anonymous, which also urged a product boycott.

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

“Nestlé is much more front and centre than P&G and Unilever when it comes to people knowing that they make their products,” he said. “Nestlé’s logos are very prominent on its products.”

Nestlé shares closed down 1.6%.


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