Swiss Watching trivia, No 10: Nestlé

August 10, 2010, No comments


The world’s largest food company is a typically Swiss business. Or is it? Nestlé was actually founded by a German, born in Frankfurt on 10 August 1814. Back then his name was the much-more Teutonic Heinrich Nestle. He frenchified it to Henri Nestlé after moving to Vevey, beside Lake Geneva, and in doing so caused endless trouble for so many English speakers – is it ‘nessel’, or ‘ness-lay’? His big moment came in the 1860s when he created a new infant formula as a substitute for breast milk. It was an instant success, although lately a controversial one. Nestlé, the man, later sold his company for a million francs, but his name stuck and Nestlé, the company, went on to take over the world. These days it owns so many brands, it’s practically a one-stop supermarket: Perrier, Mövenpick, Maggi, Findus, Rowntree, Jenny Craig and Buitoni to name a few. Those brands earn Nestlé a massive 107 billion Swiss francs a year, though only 2% comes from baby milk products. That’s quite a legacy for a pharmacist from Frankfurt.

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