Blog Post #2
Social side of Production- Powerbars
Nestlé’s Secret Ingredients Not So Secret
Imagine yourself for a second. You are munching through the last few bites of your Powerbar; does your mind ever wander and think of what is in that energy bar? What makes it so mouth-watering, satisfying and (can’t forget) trendy to eat?
Let’s rewind to the moment you looked at all those Powerbar flavors in the Restore.
Before you buy it, you may want to know who owns the Powerbar, what ingredients it contains, and who is picking the ingredients and how their lives are affected. After you find out, you will rethink the purchase of one again.
The PowerBar official website provides information regarding the products including all the flavors offered. There are a total of 37 Powerbars! There are 8 types of energy bars: performance energy, harvest energy, pure and simple energy, protein plus 20g, protein plus 22g, recovery bar, protein plus 30g, and triple threat. Who knew there were that many options and flavors?
A famous Canadian athlete, Brian Maxwell, and two friends made the first Powerbar in their kitchen in 1983. They were a hit! Nestle bought Powerbar in 2000. What started off as very organic and environmentally-conscious product became another of Nestlé’s mysterious products.
Powerbars contain high levels of cocoa, isolated protein, and fractioned oils such as palm oil as described in the Organic Authority article, 5 Reasons To Ditch Those Energy-Sucking Energy Bars. There are major social issues that individuals face in the making of Powerbars such as oppressed labor, effects of destruction in the natural environment, and broken dreams for the future of their education.
Some of Nestlé’s cocoa supply chain comes from the Ivory Coast, and it has participated and continues to participate in its production cycle. Laborers in these local rural communities are challenged by the consequences of the working conditions. The use of machetes causes 72% of injuries in the opening of cocoa pods. There are far too many small hands working with hazardous tools. The article From bean to bar: Why chocolate will never taste the same again highlights the continuous problem of child labor cases and Nestle’s dismissal of these cases throughout the years. If children are working in these cocoa plantations, it can be assumed that they are not accessing education. Children and other laborers are working excessive hours and are underpaid or not paid at all. The CNN Freedom Project- Ending Modern Day Slavery reported in their article, Nestle advances child labor battle plan, the Fair Labor Association’s (FLA) proper investigations proving the violations of Nestlé’s own supplier code.
Nestle argues that there are many “systemic and cultural challenges” since many children have grown up in communities where child labor is accepted and engrained. Due to the FLA’s persistent in banning child labor in production, Nestle has been able see the positive social impacts it could engage in if it begins to support the education of children and eradiction of child labor.
Soy and whey are genetically modified into protein isolates. Rabobank’s report on the The Soy Supply Chain Policy lists Nestle as one of the key player’s of soy processing.
Rabobank lists these specific social issues in Amazonian rural communities due to soy being extracted for products:
1. corruption or bribery
2. employee discrimination
3. forced labour
4. harmful child labour
5. poor working conditions
6. violation of the rights of indigenous peoples
8. irresponsible depletion of scarce natural resources
9. cruelty to animals/ disproportionate reduction of animal welfare
10. products or services that impose severe health and/ or safety risks to consumers and communities in the neighbourhood of plantations
Lastly, palm oil is often sourced from areas with slave labor, and it is contributing to the destruction of rainforests and endangering wildlife. Indonesia produces 51% of the palm oil in the world. Nestle is included in the one-quarter of companies using palm oil in their products. In 2010, as described in the article Nestle Takes a Beating on Social Media Sites: Greenpeace Coordinates Protests Over Food Giant’s Palm-Oil Purchases, Nestle was attacked by Greenpeace environmental activists calling Nestle “The Killer” of orangutans. Jamaludin, an Indonesian native, talked about the struggle the villages face with the extraction of palm oil such as: extinction of tigers and orangutans, loss of land, climate changes, and the likelihood of his children not getting an education.
The effects of the palm oil used in Nestlé’s energy bars contribute to the less than 14% of orangutans remaining in Indonesia. In the past 20 years, over 2.4 million acres have been lost due to the expansion of palm oil plantations. Indonesia has been placed third in emission of greenhouse gases. People like Jamaludin directly experience the negative changes, and he is left worried even after his repeated complaints to the local governments about the forest clearing.
While we have the option to choose from different flavored Powerbars in the Restore, there are people being radically exploited by Nestlé’s use of their local resources. Jamaludin is a clear case of the suffering and exploitation. Jamaludin knows this is wrong; he can see the damage it is causing his village and later his kids.