Nestlé suspends the sale of more of its brands in Russia but will provide "essential foods"

Business Insider US
Nestlé said that it will pull some of its brands from Russia, but will keep providing "essential food."
Nestlé said that it will pull some of its brands from Russia, but will keep providing "essential food."
REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo.

  • Nestlé will remove some brands from Russia, but will keep supplying "essential food" there, the company said on Wednesday.
  • The brands the company is withdrawing from Russia include KitKat candy bars and milkshake brand, Nesquik.
  • The announcement comes as Nestlé faces pressure to suspend its Russia operations.
  • For more stories 

Swiss food giant Nestlé said it will suspend the sale of more of its brands in Russia but will continue supplying essential items, despite calls for the firm to shutter its operations there completely.

In a statement released on its website on Wednesday, Nestlé said it would withdraw brands including KitKat candy bars and Nesquik milkshake powder. The company said that it would focus on supplying "essential food" – such as infant food and medical nutrition – to Russia. 

The announcement comes amid growing pressure on Nestlé to withdraw from Russia. Other food and retail giants such as Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Heineken have suspended operations in Russia in the weeks following the attack on Ukraine, leaving Nestlé as one of a small number of Western companies still operating there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticised the Swiss food giant for using "cheap PR" to defend its decision to continue business in Russia in an address posted to Telegram on Friday. Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal tweeted on Thursday that he had spoken with Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider about the company's continued business operations in Russia, claiming the CEO showed "no understanding."

Nestlé defended its position on Wednesday, saying in its statement: "This approach is in line with our purpose and values. It upholds the principle of ensuring the basic right to food."

"We have already halted non-essential imports and exports into and out of Russia, stopped all advertising, and suspended all capital investment in the country. Of course, we are fully complying with all international sanctions on Russia," the statement said. The company added that it would donate any profits it makes in the country to humanitarian organisations.

Nestlé earlier this month halted shipments of products such as Nespresso coffee pods and San Pellegrino mineral water to Russia, Bloomberg reported.

Nestlé did not provide further details on any additional brands it would be suspending in Russia when asked by Insider.

Pressure on the food giant has also been mounting outside of government circles. Calls for a boycott of the brand are circulating online, including from the activist group, Anonymous.

The food retailer has six factories and employs more than 7,000 people in Russia. The company brought in $1.8 billion (R26.5 billion) in revenue last year from Russia, which accounted for 2% of the company's total revenue for 2021, according to Bloomberg. 

Other brands are still doing business in Russia, including consumer goods giant Unilever. The company — which owns food and hygiene brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Dove — said on March 8 that it would suspend imports and exports in and out of Russia and investment in the region, but would continue to sell "essential food and hygiene products."

Unilever did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Meanwhile, French retail giant Leroy Merlin also continues to operate in Russia. The French firm's Russia arm recently said it wanted to expand product variety at its stores after other foreign businesses left. Leroy Merlin did not respond to Insider's request for comment when approached on LinkedIn.

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