Survival during wartime
The outbreak of war in 1914 leads to increased demand for condensed milk and chocolate, but a shortage of raw materials and limits on cross-border trade hamper production for Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss. To solve this problem, the company acquires processing facilities in the US and Australia, and by the end of the war it has 40 factories.
War breaks out across Europe and disrupts production for the company, but hostilities also drive demand for Nestlé dairy products, in the form of large government contracts.
Condensed milk is long-lasting and easy to transport, which makes it popular with armed forces. For example, in 1915 the British Army starts issuing Nestlé canned milk to soldiers in their emergency rations. Strong demand for the product means that the company’s milk refineries are working flat out.
Nestlé Anglo-Swiss acquires Norwegian dairy company Egron, which has patented a spray-drying process for producing milk powder – a product its new owner starts selling.
Milk shortages in Switzerland mean that Nestlé & Anglo-Swiss has to surrender fresh milk supplies to help people in towns and cities. To meet demand for condensed milk from the warring nations, the company buys US refineries and signs supply agreements with Australian companies, which it later acquires.
Nestlé buys its first Canadian milk plant in Chesterville, Ontario and begins operation as The Maple Leaf Condensed Milk Company.