The Nespresso for Babies
After their single serve coffee concept having become one of the fastest growing of Nestlé’s billionaire brands, the company is looking at extending this success formula by introducing a luxury baby formula called BabyNes that follows a similar operational method as Nespresso coffee machine and capsules do.
Promising six consecutive formulas that “meet the evolving nutritional needs in the first three years of (baby’s) life” Nestle released a statement about its new product, saying, “The single-serve portions are sealed in capsules, used in the proprietary BabyNes machine, which recognises each capsule and prepares the bottle with precisely the right dosage and temperature, at the push of a button, in less than one minute.”
Having introduced BabyNes in Switzerland late last month, Nestle has been severely criticized for this new release by a number of Swiss dailies and health experts who are accusing the Switzerland-based food and dairy products giant of encouraging mothers to stop breastfeeding over a new lifestyle consumer machine that dispenses substitute baby milk formula from capsules.
Breast-feeding More Than Just a Lifestyle Statement
Despite the heavy price-tag attached to BabyNes - the high-end machine costs $295 with packets of 26 capsules, amounting to around four times the cost of Nespresso coffee – likely to put off lower income consumers, the BabyNes product, with its single-serve capsules and instant milk-making machine, has gained so much criticism because of the never-ending debate about the morality and possible health implications of commercialising breast milk alternatives.
A sequel to the scandal that broke out in the 1970s when Nestle first introduced infant formula to developing countries, though not as furious as its precedent, Nestle disagrees with all contentions of breast feeding campaigners, health experts and media questioning the possible health implications of introducing a product like BabyNes.
The company said in a statement, “Nestlé supports exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life, in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, and continued breastfeeding thereafter for as long as possible. For babies who are not breastfed, Nestlé provides high-quality breast milk substitutes, such as BabyNes.”
The 1970s scandal was largely based on Nestle being blamed for a number of infant deaths in developing countries following the introduction of baby formula in these markets, because of contaminated water having been mixed with the formula. These could possibly have been avoided had beastfeeding been ensured.
And despite the company’s claims about adhering to WHO guidelines about breastfeeding, through offering a “luxury baby formula” product, with its state-of-the-art technology, Nestle essentially seems to be endorsing a lifestyle product, a status symbol, that allows mothers to make an easier choice, rather than focus on nutritional implications of this choice.
Critics have focused especially on the negative aspirational trends such a product could set in developing economies. And while Nestlé has mentioned that they would be looking at launching BabyNes outside Switzerland in 2012, the company has not elaborated on whether they would be aiming at developing economies in the future.
images courtesy babynes.ch