UPDATE(SRI LANKA): Nestle Lanka Ltd. has refused to reduce milk prices


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-33-2001
ISSUES: Right to food,

Update on Urgent Appeal 23 August 2001 
UP-33-2001 (RE: UA26/01: Nestle, Anchor, Government, IMF denying food to infants

SRI LANKA: Nestle Lanka Ltd. has refused to reduce milk prices 

Dear Friends, 

Regarding our earlier urgent appeal (30-07-2001) on the unbearable increase of milk prices in Sri Lanka, we are sending you some information on the latest situation of the ‘Reduce Milk Prices Campaign’ and the upcoming activities that are planned. 

On July 6, the Sri Lankan government promised that they would accept all proposals made by the Reduce Milk Prices Campaign. These included a reduction in advertising, the removal of government taxes and government intervention to import and distribute milk powder in order to overcome the monopolistic control of a few companies like Nestle. They also promised to institute a policy and programme to develop domestic milk production by small rural farmers as a long-term project. 

However, the companies responded immediately by saying that they could not reduce milk prices since they were already losing money. In fact, the chairman of Nestle Lanka Ltd. stated that they would have to increase the price of a 400-gram packet by another 16 rupees (US$.24) to overcome these losses. He also said that it was improper to ask for a reduction of milk prices. He even stated that any attempt to put any pressure on the milk industry to reduce prices was a violation of the principle and policy of a free market economy. The companies have not made any attempt at all to reduce their very extravagant and excessive advertising and their expensive packaging. They have ignored the fact that so many children are bound to die. 

Therefore, the Reduce Milk Prices Campaign decided to increase its pressure. At the beginning, this campaign began with 26 organisations, but now the number of organisations that have agreed to participate has increased to about 350, including various rural village-level organisations, trade unions and organisations in the war-affected border areas, farmers?organisations and women’s and human rights organisations. 

In addition, 25,000 Sinhalese and 8,000 Tamil posters have been printed and pasted in all areas, and 16,000 leaflets have been distributed. Regional groupings have been formed in many areas, such as Negombo, Kurunegala and Kandy, and awareness meetings have been held. 

The campaign has organised a gathering to make an appeal to the Sri Lankan people and the government at 7:00 a.m. on Aug. 31. This event has been organised based on a very old tradition in the villages of Sri Lanka – a traditional ceremony of giving alms to the “Milk Mothers” when the children have some illness or any other evil facing them. People believe that these calamities will be overcome by inviting a group of elderly mothers to visit the home in the early morning before the sun rises. It is expected that about 1,000 or more people will gather from all parts of the country. After two to three hours of this Satyakriya (Act of Truth), they will move to a meeting hall to which citizens?groups, the media and political and religious leaders have been invited. The mothers will present their stories and make their pleas. They will also discuss ways of working to protect their children from this tragic situation. Another 10,000 leaflets with the signatures of 350 organisations in Sinhala and Tamil will be distributed on this day. The whole activity will be held under the theme “WE WILL NOT ALLOW OUR CHILDREN (of more than two million families) TO DIE HUNGRY.” 


Express your attention and concern by writing a letter to: 

(1) The President of Sri Lanka 
– Express your approval of the Sri Lankan government’s promise to accept all proposals made by the Reduce Milk Prices Campaign, including a reduction in advertising, the removal of government taxes and government intervention to import and distribute milk powder in order to overcome the monopolistic control of a few companies like Nestle 
– Demand that all promises that the Sri Lankan government made that are mentioned above are honoured immediately 
– Call for the implementation of long-term projects which can protect infant children from this tragic situation 

(2) Nestle and Anchor 
– Express your strong concern about this tragic situation in Sri Lanka 
– Protest against their role in the destruction of domestic milk production by small rural farmers 
– Protest against their intention to increase milk prices rather than reduce them 


Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga 
Presidential Residence 
Colombo 3 
FAX: +941 333 703 
SALUTATION: Your Excellency 

Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe 
Nestle SA 
Ave. Nestle 55 
CH-1800 Vevey 
FAX: +41 21 922 6334 

Nestl?Lanka Limited 
440, T.B. Jayah Mawatha (Darley Road) 
P.O. Box 189 
Colombo 10 
TEL:+941-69 78 21/22/23 
FAX:+941-69 94 37 

New Zealand Milk Products Lanka Ltd. (Anchor) 
100 New Kandy Road 
EMAIL: nzmpl@sri.lanka.net 
TEL: +941 570 032 
FAX: +941 570 017 
General Fax: +941 570 261 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-33-2001
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Right to food,