Nestle Corp. Opens Retail Store in the Bronx: Selling Tap Water to the Poor

Seriously! I’m not in the habit of writing rants but this one I just couldn’t ignore.

I happened upon an announcement that Nestle “is celebrating its commitment to

the Hispanic community with the opening of its first U.S. Nestlé Pure Life Mercado del Agua (Water Store).

Bringing the benefits of Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water to the Hispanic community, the Mercado del Agua store celebrates its grand opening on Sat., Nov. 14, 2009 in the Bronx, NY from 12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Internationally acclaimed Hispanic TV personality and spokesperson for the Nestlé Pure Life brand Cristina Saralegui will make a special appearance at the store from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.”

Ah, the irony! Here’s why:

“The Nestlé Group is headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland. It’s the world’s largest food company. The water division of Nestlé is known as Nestlé Waters, which today serves 70 well-known bottled water brands in 160 countries world-wide. In addition to the Perrier and Vittel brands, Nestlé Waters North America also imports the S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna brands from Italy. Their bottled water brands also includes Arrowhead, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Ozarka, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Aberfoyle Spring, and others.” In 2008, its revenue was $94.42 Billion. According to their company profile: “water is the embodiment of “the very best” and all that nurtures life.” 

Perhaps that sentiment in regard to bottled water is because “Nestlé’s beverage division is almost completely reliant on bottled water.”

But sales are down this year according to Reuters and there’s the huge backlash from enviromentalists and activists (read more and to deal with, in addition to recent recalls of contaminated water…

So they’ve “launched a series of television advertisements to promote its Pure Life brand as a healthier alternative to sugary drinks. The advertisements are presently [heavily] targeting the US Spanish speaking population and will move into English language television advertising soon. The company hopes that consumers of carbonated soft drinks will continue shifting to bottled water.”

That’s great but what wrong with regular water?

Last year, Nestlé Waters North America signed a two-year partnership with Cristina Saralegui, one of Time Magazine’s 25 most influential Hispanics in America. She is now their spokesperson and will be part of the meet and greet at the Bronx store on Saturday.

Now here’s the clincher: The store is offering the community a variety of their “healthful waters,” including Nestle Pure Life purified water in 5 gallon bottles.

Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water is basically tap water! It’s been filtered and then had certain minerals re-added.

Now for those of you who don’t know, New York has one of the best water supplies in the nation. Our water is clean and free! Free as in monetary and free as in nothing added. (Note: It is treated however, with chlorine, flouride and orthophosphate)

“Very farsighted people built the New York water supply system, starting with the Croton reservoirs built between 1842 and WW1, and the Catskill system started in 1927. Altogether 1,900 square miles of land containing pristine lakes and reservoirs supply approximately 1.4 billion gallons of water each day to nearly 9 million people in New York City and surrounding counties. It is pure, clean, and unfiltered.”

So this is just one of the reasons “environmental groups have campaigned against bottled water, saying resources are wasted in bottling and transporting water which may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to a thousand times the price.”

“If you’ve seen FLOW [I really recommend you watch this – you may never buy a bottle of water again – You can watch it online here] or any of the other recent documentaries about water rights, you know that one of the (many) problems with bottled water is that local communities are sold on the idea of having cheaper water rates through privatized water and instead end up oftentimes without water. While this program does not include privatizing water, it does give water right to a company, when the rest of the community is under tight water restrictions. Communities looking to fight off big water are in for a serious battle.”

This however is not the problem here…

“According to a recent census, the Bronx is still one of the poorest counties in the U.S. and according to the 2005–2007 American Community Survey Estimates, 50.7% of the total population are Hispanic or Latino.”

My point: You are telling me that Nestlé Pure Life brand spokeperson Cristina Saralegui, the Hispanic Oprah, and Nestle Waters are opening this Mercado de Agua in the Bronx and selling tap water to Hispanics and the Bronx community (one of the poorest places in the US) because it’s good for them? Give me a break! Clearly they aren’t worried about the best interests of this community, especially during a recession…

What I don’t understand is the lack of media coverage or the missing outcry of protest from the community…and that’s why I wrote this

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