Claws out for Nestlé over its £1m deal with Cats Protection

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The Independent Online

The Cats Protection charity has signed a £1m deal with Nestlé, the controversial baby milk company, it was announced yesterday.

The Cats Protection charity has signed a £1m deal with Nestlé, the controversial baby milk company, it was announced yesterday.

Campaigners against the promotion of formula milk in Third World countries criticised the sponsorship agreement and called for a boycott of pet products made by Nestlé.

Under the deal, the nine million tins of Felix cat food sold every week, produced by Nestlé Purina, will carry a joint logo and details of the charity's work.

Nestlé will also sponsor "educational literature" in the charity's magazine and provide free merchandise.

The charity said the deal would help it to increase the number of cats it saves and re-homes, and would raise awareness of its work. It has an annual turnover of £23m and places 60,000 cats a year in new homes.

Helen Ralston, chief executive of Cats Protection, said: "Nestlé Purina has supported us on a number of initiatives for the last five years, so the Felix association was a natural progression of our relationship."

Over the past two years, Nestlé Purina has helped the charity to save £2m by providing subsidised cat food, she added.

It is the latest example of so-called cause-related marketing, where big businesses give money to link their products to good causes.

Cause-related marketing is one of the biggest growth areas of charitable giving, enabling companies with poor public images to bask in the reflected glory of reputable charities. It raised £58.2m for good causes in 2003, up 15 per cent on the previous year, according to Business in the Community.

However, charities have been criticised for accepting money and sponsorship deals from large corporations, which have dubious business operations.

Nestlé has been repeatedly criticised for breaching World Health Organisation guidelines on the promotion of formula milk in developing countries.

Campaigns have also accused it of issuing free samples of formula milk to clinics in countries where the lack of clean water can raise the risk of infection in babies who are not breastfed.

Ms Ralston defended the deal saying: "As an animal welfare charity, we are very particular about the organisations we associate ourselves with. All of our board and its executives fully endorse the partnership with Nestlé Purina PetCare."

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