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Our History: Milk Based Food

Only the best for your baby

Breast milk is the best nourishment for newborn babies. It provides all the nutrients your little one requires for optimal physical and mental development. Breast milk also builds immunity against infectious diseases. Therefore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that mothers should breastfeed their children exclusively for the first 6 months.

1814 to 1860: From pharmacist’s assistant to industry pioneer

Henri Nestlé, founder of the group with the same name, was born on 10th August 1814 in Frankfurt, Germany. The eleventh of 14 children (seven boys and seven girls), half of whom died before reaching adulthood, Henri would be the only son to marry. The repeated bereavements (frequent at the time) and his father, an enterprising man who was acutely aware of the evolving world, had a profound effect on him.

After completing his apprenticeship at a pharmacy in Frankfurt in 1833, Henri Nestlé went on to studychemistry, biology, Latin and other subjects. He passed his “pharmacist’s assistant” exam in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1839. That same year, he decided to settle in Switzerland permanently and moved to Vevey.

For over 20 years, Henri Nestlé applied his inventiveness and ingenuity to various ventures, which enabled him to sell products that provided solutions for the new "modern" lifestyle: mineral water, municipal gas lighting and more.

In spite of many financial difficulties, Henri Nestlé always managed to rise above adversity
His personal experience (the early deaths of many siblings) meant he was especially sensitive to the plights of young children. His wife, Clémentine, was an important influence on him, thanks to the support she provided and her own involvement in his professional activities. Unable to have children of their own, the Nestlés adopted a young orphan girl named Emma.

1860 to 1890: Henri Nestlé creates the first infant food

In the 1860s, food production was still a small-scale activity. But as living conditions began to change: towns grew bigger, a rail network took form, and purchasing power increased; food manufacturing started to develop.

While breast milk was recognised as a superior source of nutrition, mothers often had to turn to artificial alternatives. They faced a dilemma: they had to feed their children but the poorly-digestible animal milk and the lack of knowledge of hygiene conditions made this type of food dangerous for the child (infant mortality rose 15 to 20% in the first year!).

Over the years, there were various attempts at producing foods especially for infants. Henri Nestlé, after several efforts, created the first milk-based food for infants, which enjoyed a small success; until one day in 1867 when, thanks to his product, he saved little "Wanner", a baby who was just a few months old and destined to die. 

From then on, the cereal was tested and approved by countless doctors and midwives and became well known as a product that was nutritious, easy to digest and delicious. Nestlé's patience finally paid off with this product's success. Inventiveness, tenacity and research for maximum safety will always remain the cornerstones of the Nestlé brand.

Henri Nestlé was a manufacturer who liked to take on new challenges. In 1875, when he was 61 years old, he sold his personal company to create the "Société Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé", whose strength was and continues to be its goal to always meet the needs of parents. Nestlé’s “farine lactée” went on to win over 40 awards, the most important one at the World Exposition in Paris, 1889.

In 1868, Henri Nestlé adopted the family name's coat of arms for his company logo: an oak branch with three fledglings being fed by their mother.

1945 to 1962: The Nestlé brand through the 20th century

After the shock of World War II Nestlé played an active role in speeding up post-war recovery. New laboratories were opened at La Tour-de-Peilz, near Vevey. They allowed the brand to expand and step upresearch and development, which help to safeguard future innovations. Infant powders enjoyed a growing success during this period, which was marked by a high birth rate.