Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, April 16, 2007
Sometimes when I’m drawing these things I think, “well this is very obvious. I won’t have to explain this in the blog.” This, this is not one of those comics.
Nestle, you guys know Nestle, right? “It thick and rich and chocolate. But you can’t drink it slow, ’cause it’s Quik!” The friendly little hyper Nesquik bunny who helps you mix chocolate powder into your milk then bogarts the whole glass in less than a second? Good times. Anyway, the truth is Nestle is a big ol’ multinational food manufacturer based in Switzerland, and they have two big gigs going on in Michigan.
The first is bottled water. Nestle’s Ice Mountain subsidiary pumps large quantities of ground water out of mid-lower Michigan and sells it to the thirsty masses (us). Not a bad thing, but some claim that Nestle is not so careful about the effects of all this water extraction. To wit, lakes and ponds near the pumping sites becoming markedly lower. Now Michigan is somewhat sensitive about our water. It’s one of the few advantages we have any more, and we cast a suspicious eye upon the states and nations with growing economies and limited water resources. Which is to say, everybody else. So the state has aggravated Nestle at intervals with giving them rules to follow, telling them to follow the rules, checking to see if they are in fact following the rules — annoying stuff like that.
And now, second, Nestle is acquiring Gerber Foods, which lives in Fremont, Michigan. Actually, Nestle acquired Gerber from another Swiss company, and Gerber US headquarters has been in New Jersey for some time. But a sprawling plant and deep, deep ties remain in its birthplace of Fremont.
So the thought occurred to me that if Nestle wanted to be really nasty, they could “consolidate” Gerber operations outside of Michigan or at least threaten to do so. I don’t think this will happen, but it’s a good piece of fear-mongering and that makes for a fine editorial cartoon. And who knows, if I keep scaring people and filling them with a sense of dread for what might happen, maybe Rudy Giuliani will sign me up to help with his presidential campaign. (I’m sure everybody got that, and I don’t need to explain….)