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North America Says NO to Bottled Water

Community Protests, Slowing Market Hang Over Nestlé Shareholders’ Meeting

BOSTON – April 10 – Today in Lausanne, Switzerland, Nestlé executives and shareholders’ had the opportunity to reflect on a year that has been marked by a growing antipathy toward the corporation’s signature product – bottled water.

Community protests over water rights have stymied Nestlé’s attempts in North America to secure new water sources for bottled water brands like Poland Spring. Just this week BusinessWeek documented one town’s struggles in A Town Torn Apart by Nestlé. This coverage comes on the heels of major congressional hearings that have called into question Nestlé’s bottling practices at sites across the country.

North American campaigns to wean cities, restaurants, and other establishments from bottled water, such as Think Outside the Bottle, also appear to be taking their toll on Nestlé’s sales. In the recent article, Nestle Loses Sales as Alice Waters Bans Bottled Water, Bloomberg reported that Nestlé water unit’s operating profit growth will shrink by half in 2008. The backdrop to this is an overall downturn in market growth in the United States.

“When other businesses, including world-class restaurants, begin pointing to Nestlé products as wasteful, bad for the environment, and unnecessary, it doesn’t paint the rosiest picture for investors,” said Gigi Kellett, national director for Think Outside the Bottle, a campaign of Corporate Accountability International. “Nestlé can use its shareholders’ meeting to start explaining how it will stop practices that involve strong-arming communities out of their most precious resource.”

Corporate Accountability International is calling on Nestlé to:

In concert with Nestlé’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Corporate Accountability International has launched a website dedicated to exposing Nestlé abuses.

The website provides a link to a Polaris Institute map of North American bottling sites and documents three community struggles including:

Fryeburg, Maine. Locals call the water source the Ward’s Brook Aquifer, but the end product is called Poland Spring. The bottling plant’s impact on the aquifer has 90-year-old Howard Dearborn and his neighbors waging a campaign to return Fryeburg’s water to public control. Read the story.

Mecosta County, Michigan. When Nestlé wanted to build a bottling plant on the shores of a wildlife sanctuary, locals said enough is enough. But the corporation is challenging the community’s right to protect this valued natural area and the essential resource that lies beneath it. Read the story.

For more information on Think Outside the Bottle, community struggles, and for facts about bottled water, visit their site.

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SOURCE: Corporate Accountability International
Nick Guroff 617-447-2507
Sara Joseph 617-447-2527