Nestlé suspends sales of KitKat and Nesquik in Russia after criticism from Zelensky

Nestlé announced on Wednesday it was suspending sales of its KitKat and Nesquik brands in Russia, the latest effort by a global consumer giant to rethink its operations in the country as it wages war on Ukraine.

Owners of global brands including Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola have come under pressure to pull out of Russia as Western countries try to squeeze Russia’s economy and thwart its ability to fund war. But these brands balance several concerns, such as leaving behind investments in brands and factories, potentially disrupting complex supply chains and supporting sometimes large workforces.

Nestlé said it was suspending sales of “the vast majority” of its volume of pre-war products in Russia, including pet food, coffee and candy. It has already halted “non-essential” imports and exports to and from Russia, as well as advertising and capital investment. The company also fully respects all international sanctions against Russia, he said.

“While we do not expect to make any profits in the country or pay any related taxes in the foreseeable future in Russia, any profits will be donated to humanitarian aid organizations,” the company said on Wednesday.

Nestlé said its future business in Russia “will focus on providing essential foods” to residents, such as infant food and medical nutrition. Other brands, such as Danone and PepsiCo, have also said they will continue producing foods and products considered basic necessities. Critics said such moves undermine efforts to starve the Russian economy and pressure businesses to take all-or-nothing Russia breaks. Maintaining even limited operations in Russia would make it easier for brands to restart broader operations there, when or if they need to.

Lawmakers in the US, UK and Ukraine have urged companies to sever ties, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky specifically pointed the finger at Nestlé.

“‘Good food. Good life.’ That’s Nestlé’s slogan. Your company that refuses to leave Russia,” Zelensky said in a video message to anti-war protesters in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday.

Sallie R. Loera