Undercurrents: beneath the obvious

December 18, 2006

Nestle may buy Michigan-based Gerber – water controversy may go away

UPDATE (April 12, 2007): Nestle to buy Gerber for $5.5 billion

The London Times reports that:

Nestlé, the world’s biggest foodmaker, has held talks with Novartis, the drugs group, about a possible $3 billion (£1.5 billion) deal to acquire Gerber Products, Novartis’s American babyfood business.

With estimated annual sales of about $1 billion, Gerber is the third-biggest player in the $5.7 billion US infant nutrition market, which is growing at 3 per cent to 4 per cent a year. Gerber products are distributed in more than 80 countries.

Based in Fremont, Michigan, Gerber makes infant foods, juices and other baby products.

The city of Fremont proudly proclaims:

Our municipally owned and operated water supply system obtains its water from eight deep wells with a combined capacity of seven million gallons per day. Major improvements in 1993 allow us to serve the total water needs of the Gerber Products Company production facility as well as the growing needs of additional industrial and commercial customers.

In other Michigan news: With much controversy, Nestlé is seeking state permission to pump 70 million more gallons of water from the headwaters of two trout streams; currently the company pumps 270 million gallons of water a year from underground springs and from the city of Evart’s municipal water system.

Gerber, by the way, pumps 1,090 million gallons of water a year — that’s FOUR times Nestle’s use — with nary a complaint.

Evart is 50 miles from Fremont. Does 50 miles separate Nestle from all its problems?

Reference: Nestle Ice Mountain Project Update (pdf)

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