Nestlé’s birthday bash ruffles festival feathers

Is Nestlé getting special treatment from local authorities? That’s the question festival organizers in Lausanne would like answered after the food industry behemoth was allowed to stage a concert on Friday at 100 decibels, over the official limit of 93db.

Nestlé’s birthday bash ruffles festival feathers
Lausanne's Festival de la Cité has not received the same special dispensation as Nestle, despite asking. Photo: Régis Colombo/Lausanne tourism

On Friday night the company – whose headquarters are in Vevey – staged a concert to celebrate its 150th birthday outside the Beaulieu events centre in Lausanne.

According to local television channel La Télé, the company received special dispensation to play music at a maximum volume of 100db.

For the past five years city authorities have refused several requests by other festivals – including Lausanne’s Festival de la Cité and Fête de la Musique – to exceed the stated maximum of 93db.

At the end of May this year Lausanne’s three biggest music events wrote to the city authorities once again to request the same dispensation, but have yet to receive a reply, reported La Télé.

Speaking to La Télé, Myriam Kridi, director of Festival de la Cité, said: “We would be very surprised if a reconsideration was given only for Nestlé’s event and that the city doesn’t take our own request into account.”

As yet La Télé has received no response from city authorities.

Contacted by The Local on Monday morning, city councillor Marc Vuilleumier confirmed that Nestlé received the special dispensation and said it was up to the city council to decide if it should be granted to other events.

A free open-air mutli-arts festival in the centre of Lausanne, Festival de la Cité runs from July 5th-10th.

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‘Unlimited resources’: Switzerland’s Nestle goes vegan

Swiss food giant Nestle, which has made billions with dairy products, said Monday it will host start-ups that want to develop vegetarian alternatives.

'Unlimited resources': Switzerland's Nestle goes vegan

Nestle could thus find itself at the forefront of a sector that has strong growth potential, an analyst commented.

It plans to open its research and development (R&D) centre in Konolfingen, Switzerland to “start-ups, students and scientists” a statement said.

In addition to testing sustainable dairy products, the group plans to encourage work on plant-based dairy alternatives, it added.

Chief executive Mark Schneider was quoted as saying that “innovation in milk products and plant-based dairy alternatives is core to Nestle's portfolio strategy.”

The group unveiled a vegetable-based milk that had already been developed with the process, and technical director Stefan Palzer told AFP it planned to focus on 100-200 such projects a year.

Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, noted that while Nestle had missed some consumer trends in the past, it has now “taken something of a lead in the plant-based alternative market for food”.

And “given its pretty much unlimited resources, Nestle is going to come out one of the winners in the space,” Cox forecast in an e-mail.

Nestle said that “internal, external and mixed teams” would work at the R&D centre over six-month periods.

Nestle would provide “expertise and key equipment such as small to medium-scale production equipment to facilitate the rapid upscaling of products for a test launch in a retail environment,” it added.

The Swiss food giant has long been known for its dairy products, but faced a boycott in the 1970s for allegedly discouraging mothers in developing countries from breastfeeding even though it was cheaper and more nutritious than powdered formula.

On Monday, the group's statement also underscored that the research initiative was part of its commitment to help fight global warming.

“As a company, we have set ambitious climate goals. This is part of our promise to develop products that are good for you and good for the planet,” it said.