Nestlé named Company of the Year. Gulp!

I’m still shaking my head over this one. Nestlé, the world’s largest food company ($100 billion in sales), has been named Company of the Year by the industry newsletter Food Dive.

I’ve been writing about Nestlé for years, it’s the 500-lb gorilla of the food world, after all. But it’s the relationship with Starbucks that puzzles me the most. As I write in FORKING SEATTLE:


One day early in 2018, our Mermaid was out for a stroll on the shores of Lake Geneva, gazing at the Alps. She knew better than to cross over to the French side, where the wily sorceress Evian dwelt, sucking up pure water from the rocks. She was with her new boyfriend, after all, a local kid from Vevey, very Swiss and proper. A rich kid, sure, but our Mermaid wasn’t worried.

The boyfriend had something like three percent of the US coffee market, most of it powdered instant stuff, and the Mermaid knew she had five times as big a share. The leaders didn’t count; Smucker’s (Dunkin Donuts) was the biggest dog, but a dog nonetheless. Her old boyfriend Peet, he was with the number two outfit now, JAB; so was Keurig, both gone over to the Germans.

And then, out of nowhere, the Mermaid’s boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed!

“Come with me,” he implored. “Here, here’s seven billion simoleons.”

“I will not sell my virtue for any amount of cash!” she protested,”not even seven million simoleons.”

The boyfriend, who was a shrewd negotiator (that’s how he’d got so rich), said, “Well, what if instead of getting totally married, you only let me nibble on your sweet, sweet…”

“Never!” she cried. “And certainly not for seven million simoleons!”

“Let me finish,” replied her suitor, who went by many names, although she knew him as Ness. “I said seven billion,not seven million. And I only want the stuff you already sell in packages. I’ll sell it for you around the world, and you’ll be famous.”

“But why, Ness? Why?”Truth be told, the Mermaid wasn’t crazy about stocking her bean-beans in every neighborhood supermarket; it was so booooring, And now Ness wanted to do it for her!

“I like the way you smell, Star.” (He called her Star.).” I’m crazy for your dress, your image, your smile, your smell.”

So the Mermaid smiled her sweet, inscrutable smile, and said, “Okay, Ness. But I get to keep Pumpkin Spice.”

“Sure, sweetheart,” he said, And he pulled the 7 billion simoleons out of his pocket as if it were dryer lint.

When the deal closed, six months later, the Mermaid had gone back to Seattle for the annual Pumpkin Spice festival. But in Vevey, her suitor rubbed his hands gleefully. “Don’t ever say Nestlé isn’t one smart cookie.”