Here’s another review that serves as an example of how to incorporate both gold star and green star ratings (you can see more examples here). In this case the product is made by one of the largest corporations on the planet, which provides some challenges when it comes to evaluating the product and company (more on that below). The review, like all our example reviews, is purely the opinion of one person, and (particularly with a large company such as Nestlé) your opinion is likely to differ. Hence the need for a several user-generated ratings to form a consensus – so start writing reviews!
Kit Kat Matcha
Ratings: *** (3/5 Gold stars) / ** (2/5 Green stars)
You can see the review as posted on Amazon here.
The review is long (and this is an edited version!) and that’s partly due to the fact that Nestlé is a very big company and there’s a lot to consider. Having said that, it’s also perfectly valid to write a review where you sum up your opinion of the product and the company as briefly as you like.
I don’t want to lead you in particular directions on whether a company has a positive or negative impact. The whole point of user-generated reviews is that everyone gets to voice their opinion if they want to. To illustrate the problem with relying on a single review, Nestlé products get an average rating of 5.3 (out of 10) on the Good Guide, slightly above Hershey, but the Better World Shopping Guide awards Nestlé a lowly F while Hershey scores a C. So, you should make your own mind up regarding the company, but I will provide some more information below on points raised in the review, purely to serve as an example or case study.
In terms of environmental impact, Nestlé has made a good effort to be transparent in terms of their energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation. Here’s an article summarizing some progress towards their goals, based on the company’s “creating shared value” report. There is some concern however over whether the targets they’ve set for themselves are good enough:
Nestlé has announced a goal of reducing its direct greenhouse gas emissions per metric ton of product by 35 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2015 amid a raft of targets in its latest sustainability report. But figures from earlier reports suggest that the company may already be on the brink of reaching the emissions target.
Also bear in mind that, although setting targets per ton of product is reasonable, their production volume will also increase over time so the question that really needs to be considered is whether they are doing enough to reduce emissions considering the current rate of climate change.
Heavy promotion of infant formula (as opposed to breastfeeding) has been a controversial issue for Nestlé over the years and is still an issue today.
Twenty-five years ago, when Dr Iqbal Kabir first came to work at this hospital, small babies were almost unknown as patients. Today, he says, infants make up as many as 70% of admissions. “Bottlefeeding is harmful,” says Kabir. “Because bottlefed babies get diarrhoea, since their formula is mixed with dirty water and since their bottles are not sterile. Do you know how many breastfed babies are admitted here with diarrhoea? The number is almost zero.
Nestlé is the largest producer of bottled water in the world. Much of this water is actually tap water, bought for next to nothing from municipalities, packaged into plastic bottles and trucked across the country. Here’s a recent article on bottling of Sacramento municipal water by Nestlé amidst the worst Californian drought on record.
The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them.
Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits.
From other perspectives, Nestle is #10 on Fortune’s “most admired” companies. And they did respond to pressure from Greenpeace to stop buying palm oil for their Kit Kats from companies that are destroying Indonesian rainforests (it would have been nice if they had not done it in the first place of course).
Some factors to consider in rating a Kit Kat could include:
- Whether to give a relatively positive green star rating now that the palm oil is more sustainably sourced…
- ..or to give a more negative rating because Nestlé should not have been using palm oil sources from deforested land in the first place.
- Whether to base your rating solely on the product itself or to consider company activities as a whole.
- If basing your rating on the product itself, how much do labor issues mean to you? Chocolate that is not Fair Trade certified may have a negative impact on local communities, including child slave labor.
- How significant is it to you that the cacao is not organically grown?
- What’s your take on Nestlé’s efforts in transparency and their goals regarding energy, water and waste?
- How do you rate Nestlé’s track record on gender diversity, in terms of management and the cocoa supply chain?
I’ll leave that up to you.
Have a break… review a Nestlé product today!