MILAN – Quality and innovation have run through 150 years of Nestlé history but few know that the first love of the visionary entrepreneur, Henry Nestlé was for water. His early career saw him as an assistant to a pharmacist and from there, he experimented in researching scientific values in nutrition, health and wellness. And, before creating his “Farine Lactée” – which would make him famous all over the world– he focused on the production of water and lemonade.
His first love of hydration and nutrition
In 1843, he purchased a factory situated on Switzerland’s Monneresse Canal, where for centuries mills had operated on water power generated by the Veveyse River. Henri Nestlé immediately recognised the benefits of this source and began to produce still and carbonated water, better known as “fizzy” lemonade. Ever the scientist, his scientific research also led him to investigate the enrichment of water with a variety of minerals with one goal: to supply a healthy, accessible and delicious refreshment. His “Farine Lactée” was used as a nutritious alternative for children who could not be breastfed. The immediate success of this invention spread, most logically, through word of mouth and, by virtue of a time when infant mortality was high, he contributed in improving the lives of many families.
Making water immediately available
Water was always a priority for Nestlé, even after his research was orientated towards cereals. In 1878, he financed a large public fountain in the Swiss village of Glion, which brought pure water from the mountains to the town centre. Nestlé realised immediately that water was the key to the growth of a community and the future of its townspeople and that fountain is still there today as his legacy, a commitment to making water available to everyone. Today, Nestlé, from his commitment, has 52 water brands: from S. Pellegrino, which has been bottled since 1899 and became an emblem of Made in Italy, to the effervescence of the French Perrier to the classic Nestlé Pure Life, the most popular bottled water in the world.
by Alessandro Conte