Nestlé is the brand most criticized by NGOs due to its procrastination on plastics

FMCGs dominate a new top ten of corporations most criticized by activist groups (NGOs) in Q2 this year, with Nestlé the most criticized brand by far.  NGOs see Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and Coca Cola as dragging their heels on the plastic packaging issue, which has them making the latest ‘ten most criticized firms’ ranking from NGO tracking and issues analysis consultancy SIGWATCH.  Other companies coming under fire include energy companies and finance firms, a result of their continued allegiance to fossil fuels.

Nestlé has topped the NGO most criticized rankings since the start of the year.  Last quarter it attracted more than double the amount of NGO disapproval than the number two most reproached brand Johnson & Johnson.  One NGO, Plastic Soup Foundation, accuses Nestlé, Unilever (in 8th place) and Coca-Cola (9th) of backing “false solutions” to plastics waste and calls out Coca Cola and Nestlé as two of the top three contributors to marine plastic pollution.

“Two years ago, plastic pollution had barely registered on the public consciousness. Today it is a major public concern, attracting consumer attention, media column inches, and government legislation,” said Robert Blood, founder and managing director of SIGWATCH.

“However, in the eyes of NGOs, corporates’ current efforts on plastics don’t go far enough. In particular Greenpeace and its allies are disappointed that big business is focusing on recycling rather than reduced use, and Nestlé is being made an example of, to encourage the others to step up. NGOs are hoping for a Domino Effect – spur one major brand into action and the others will follow by default.”

Two Japanese banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group, also find themselves on the most criticized list. They come under attack for financing coal power, notably the controversial Van Phong 1 coal power station in Vietnam. World Bank Group is the fifth most criticized brand, accused of “quietly bankrolling” Indonesian coal mining companies, while Adani Group is at number ten on account of its controversial Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland, Australia.

In contrast, financial institutions that are rejecting fossil fuels are rewarded with a place on the NGO ten most praised list. AXA, Allianz and QBE Insurance Group are commended for taking steps to stop financing coal, in particular for refusing to finance the Adani Carmichael coal project.  

About the quarterly rankings

SIGWATCH has been compiling quarterly rankings of brands most praised and most criticized by NGOs for three years.   The latest rankings are based on its monitoring of more than 9,000 NGOs and a total of 1,694 campaign actions over the previous three months. 


1 Nestlé

2 Royal Dutch Shell

3 Johnson & Johnson

4 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group

5 World Bank Group

6 Monsanto

7 Mizuho Financial Group

8 Unilever

9 Coca-Cola Company

10 Adani Group


1 Prada Group

2 Hilton


4 VF Corporation

5 Allianz

6 QBE Insurance Group

7 Chanel

8 Unilever

9 Burberry

10 Coach


SIGWATCH is a global research and strategy consultancy specializing in understanding NGOs (activist groups) and the impact of their campaigns on corporate reputation and social responsibility.  It is headquartered in London, United Kingdom with a support office in Germany and a global network of researchers and analysts.  It also has partners in the US and Canada. 

SIGWATCH provides real-time monitoring and measurement of emerging stakeholder risk from more than 9,000 NGO campaigners across all industry sectors.  Its clients are mostly global businesses that have direct or sector exposure to issues campaigns, and companies that advise or invest in such businesses or need to carry out due diligence prior to partnering or investment.