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Jun 14, 2006
Focus: Consumer Rights
Action Request: Protest
Location: United States
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/04/19/nlinda19.xml&sSheet=/news/2006/04/19/ixhome.html


Linda McCartney's vegetarian food range could soon become the latest ethical business to sell out to Nestlé, one of the most boycotted companies in the world.

The ready meals brand, which was launched by Sir Paul McCartney's first wife 15 years ago, has been put up for sale by its owner, Heinz.

Heinz is understood to be in talks with the Israel-based vegetarian food company Tivall, which is partly owned by Nestlé.

If the sale goes ahead it would be the second blow to Britain's ethical consumers within a few weeks.

Last month Dame Anita Roddick, the founder of The Body Shop, was criticised for agreeing to sell the company to L'Oréal, which is also partly owned by Nestlé.

Nestlé and Heinz are declining to comment on the sale, but a spokesman for Heinz said: "We continue to explore options to maximise the value of the frozen food business."

Linda McCartney, who died from breast cancer in 1998, was a committed vegetarian.

Her range of meat-free meals was an instant success on its launch in 1991 and quickly became the market leader.

Heinz won the licence to produce the range when it bought United Biscuits Frozen and Chilled Foods in 1998.

However, the fashion for fresh food has hit demand in the frozen market.

Heinz has been keen to sell off the division for some time. Last September, Heinz put its frozen food business, including the Linda McCartney range, on the market for around £200 million.

Tivall, which is based in northern Israel, makes most of the own-label vegetarian frozen meals for Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons.

It is a subsidiary of the Israeli food company Osem - in which Nestlé owns a 50.1 per cent stake.

Nestlé is one of the most boycotted companies in the UK.

Campaigners have claimed Nestlé is responsible for the "aggressive'' marketing of baby foods and powdered baby milk in the developing world and undermines the benefits of breast-feeding.

Nestlé denies aggressive marketing and insists it follows international guidelines on selling food and milk for babies.

Helen Middleton, from the Ethical Consumer magazine, said multinational companies were increasingly looking to adopt "green" brands that give them respectability.

"It is very difficult for the vast majority of consumers to keep on top of the ever-changing purchases and developments in the business world," she said.

According to a survey by YouGov, The Body Shop's reputation suffered after it was bought by L'Oréal in March for £652 million.

The Body Shop built up much of its customer base on the back of its opposition to animal testing.

L'Oréal, however, still uses ingredients that have been tested on animals "for safety reasons".


27 May 2002: Authors quit Hay-on-Wye festival over Nestlé links
8 June 2001: Roddick to make £43m from sale of Body Shop
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Posted: Jun 14, 2006 10:57am

 

 
 
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