Sustainability and water
A Nestlé case study

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Page 1: Background

Nestlé is the world's largest food and beverage company and employs over a quarter of a million workers. It is in the secondary sector at the centre of the supply chainthat starts with producers of agricultural products in the primary sector and ends with distribution and retailing in the tertiary sector.


Nestlé SA acts as a holding company. SA is the Swiss equivalent of a UK public limited company (plc). Like all companies it has a duty to provide returns to its shareholders in the form of dividends. Nestlé balances this against the need for growth whilst continuously improving and being true to its principles of sustainability. Nestlé UK is a private limited company (Ltd), wholly owned by Nestlé SA. However, Nestlé UK has its own directors and can make many of its own decisions; this is because Nestlé strives to be as decentralised as possible - local decisions are made locally.

Nestlé produces over 100 brands, including many household names such as Nescafé, KitKat and Nesquik. Other brands are also well known, but you might not have realised that they were Nestlé products - such as Golden Grahams, Buitoni, Friskies and Perrier. In 2002 Nestlé had a sales turnoverof over £38.3 billion on which it made a net profit of over £3.2 billion. The majority of this profit (63 was re-invested in the business whilst the remainder was paid out to shareholders in dividends. Its attitude to growth is that it, too, should be sustainable, and this usually means organic growth. However, its water business - known as Nestlé Waters since 2002 - has grown both organically and by acquisition. Nestlé acquired Vittel in 1969, Perrier in 1992 and San Pellegrino in 1998. Today, Nestlé Waters is established in 130 countries and is the world's leading bottled water business.

Nestlé | Sustainability and water