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Henri Nestlé, the visionary

Heinrich Nestle, the company’s founder and inventor of “baby food”, was born in 1814 in Frankfurt am Main. After studying pharmacy, he emigrated to Vevey, where he worked as a pharmacist’s assistant. At the age of 29, he went into business for himself, producing various products for the local market. In his laboratory, he developed a mineral fertilizer and liquefied gas. He married in 1860 but, after building a gasworks, he lost his main source of income. On the search for a new source of revenue, he came upon an unsolved problem with regard to infant nutrition: one in four children died before reaching the age of one year. Based on scientific findings, he developed a complete infant food which, at the request of a friend, he successfully fed to a premature baby. Just a few years later, he was distributing his “baby food” with the nest logo derived from the family crest on every continent. Aged 61, he sold his company to three local entrepreneurs and spent his retirement in the Montreux area, where he died in 1890.

In 1905, his successors merged with “Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co.” which, in 1866 in Cham, launched the first condensed milk in Europe. It was from this merger that the world’s largest food group was created which, in 2014, generated turnover in excess of CHF 90 billion and had a workforce of around 339,000.

Philippe Oertlé
Head of Corporate Communications, Nestlé Suisse SA