Wyeth rides on breastfeeding to promote products in China

“Use a goat’s head to attract customers then sell them dog meat instead” – this old Chinese idiom aptly describes how companies are profiting off of breastfeeding in China, the world’s largest baby food market with sales exceeding $16 million a year (Euromonitor, 2013). Instead of overtly promoting their baby food products, companies are switching gear to appear as a crusader for breastfeeding in order to indirectly promote their baby food products.

In March, the People’s Daily (http://shipin.people.com.cn/n/2015/0330/c85914-26771358.html) reported on a breastfeeding exhibition roadshow – “Paying Tribute to Breastmilk” which is sponsored by Wyeth, a leading formula manufacturer owned by Nestlé. With the slogan “Promote Breastmilk, Research Breastmilk, Learn from Breastmilk”, the roadshow will make its way to 20 more cities in China. A paediatrican who was also a guest at the launch, said “… companies nowadays all produce formulas that are very close to the composition of breastmilk to help those infants and young children who are not able to be breastfed receive comprehensive nutrition”.

At a glance, the road show looks like a glamourous event providing exhaustive educational and scientific information on breastmilk composition and its benefits. On closer look, the actual intent of the road show unfolds as one will find discreet pictures of scientists working in the lab with a caption that says “it is precisely because Wyeth honours the superior qualities of breastmilk that it tirelessly conducts scientific research on breastmilk. Formula products that are so infinitely close to breastmilk will help those who are not able to breastfeed” on a blog. Apart from the exhibition display, there are also educational seminars and interactive workshops at the exhibition venue to engage parents. Read more