The Candy Bar at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Should Big Food Be Delivered to the Amazon?
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Last week, Nestle, the world’s largest food company, launched a barge called Nestlé Até Você a Bordo – or Nestlé Takes You Onboard – on an 18-day voyage up the Amazon River in Brazil. This so-called floating supermarket will bring more than 300 well-known Nestlé brands, including Ninho (packaged milk), Maggi (soups and seasonings) andNescafé (instant coffee) to 800,000 potential customers in 18 cities who, who, until now, managed to get by without those products, or such treats as Nestle’s Crunch, Push-Up or my childhood favorite, Baby Ruth.
In a press release, Ivan Zurita, the chief executive of Nestlé Brazil, is quoted as saying:
It will be a service to the population of the Amazon, who has streets and avenues in the form of rivers. It is a project aligned with our concept of Regionalisation, based on the different profiles of consumers, where we deal with each region as a different area.
Not everyone is cheering. Under the headline, All Aboard for Ice Cream: Nestle Peddling Junk Food on Amazon River to Reach Brazil’s Slums, Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of a book calledAppetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, calls this “especially disgusting news” and says of the Amazon dwellers:
I don’t think these people are lost or have been camping out too long, they’re just living their lives. They probably don’t even realize they are missing out on Toll House, Raisinets, and Sno-Caps. But no matter, if there are people out there so backwards to still be subsisting on food found in nature, Big Food will find them, by land or by sea, and set them straight.