Fact Check

Berkshire Hathaway Pro-Choice?

Does Berkshire Hathaway, the new owner of Pampered Chef, support pro-choice causes?

Published July 2, 2003


Claim:   Berkshire Hathaway, the legendary business concern headed by Warren Buffett and new owner of Pampered Chef, supports pro-choice causes.

Status:   Sort of.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2003]

Dear Friend:

I am a Pampered Chef consultant who has recently learned that, due to the sale of The Pampered Chef to
Berkshire Hathaway (www.berkshirehathaway.com/news/oct3102.html), Pampered Chef profits are now supporting the population control and abortion industries. These industries trade in the death of countless pre-born children, endanger the health of women, and deny the human rights of women in third world countries through forced sterilizations and abortions. Not only does Berkshire Hathaway contribute to these industries, but Warren Buffett, chief shareholder of Berkshire Hathaway, has pledged to bequeath the majority of his personal fortune (28 billion) to The Buffett Foundation, positioning him to become the largest financier of abortion and population control in the history of the world.

As a result of this information, I have ceased to sell or recruit for The Pampered Chef. I have also launched an e-mail campaign to (1) educate Pampered Chef consultants, hosts and customers of the connection between The Pampered Chef and the population control and abortion industries; and (2) petition Warren Buffett to cease his personal and corporate financial support of these same industries.

Origins:   In October 2002, Berkshire Hathaway acquired The Pampered Chef, a kitchen products company which vends items at
in-home cooking demonstrations known as Kitchen Shows and is run by kitchen consultants (its name for the members of its sale force). More than one million of these events were held in the United States in 2002, and Pampered Chef has annual sales in excess of $700 million.

Besides Pampered Chef, Berkshire Hathaway owns a number of businesses outright (including Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Geico Insurance, and See's Candies) and also has significant holdings in some very large corporations, including


The motive force behind Berkshire Hathaway is its chairman and chief executive, Warren Buffett. Although Buffett is reckoned to be the second wealthiest man in the world, he still lives in the Omaha, Nebraska, home he purchased for $31,500 in 1958. His charitable organization, the Buffett Foundation, currently has $25.3 million in assets, and these holdings are expected to swell to $36 billion when Buffett and his wife die and their shares in Berkshire Hathaway go to the Buffett Foundation, which will make it the richest charitable foundation in the world.

About 60 percent of the $33.4 million bestowed by the Buffett Foundation in fiscal year 2001 went toward family planning, reproductive rights, and population control programs operated by organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations in accordance with Warren Buffett's beliefs that population growth must be checked before exceeding a level sustainable by the earth's resources. The Buffett Foundation also funds a number of college scholarships and awards in recognition of exemplary teachers.

In July 2003 Berkshire Hathaway announced the end of its shareholder-designated contribution program, through which holders of A shares in Berkshire Hathaway could select the charities to which Berkshire Hathaway would donate funds. It noted the shareholders' choices of certain charities (including some of Buffett's choices) had caused "harmful criticism" to be directed at Pampered Chef and cited that criticism as the reason for ending the donations program. Berkshire said all its subsidiaries will continue to support local charities under direction of their local managers.

What all this means is that Berkshire Hathaway itself no longer contributes money directly to various charities (controversial or otherwise) designated by its shareholders. However, since Warren Buffett (as a private individual) holds shares in Berkshire Hathaway and is free to contribute the profit he derives from those holdings to The Buffett Foundation, the businesses owned by Berkshire Hathaway (such as The Pampered Chef) are indirectly providing money to the causes Buffett supports through his foundation.

Barbara "missed hathaway" Mikkelson

Additional Information:
    Berkshire Hathaway holdings   Berkshire Hathaway holdings

    Berkshire Hathaway press release re end of contributions   Berkshire Hathaway press release

Last updated:   28 November 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Jordon, Steve.   "Introductory Lesson on Warren Buffett."

    Omaha World Herald.   3 May 2003   (p. D5).

    Kawar, Mark.   "Touched by a Billionaire."

    Omaha World Herald.   4 May 2003   (p. D1).

    Shim, Grace.   "Berkshire Pantry Adds Pampered Chef."

    Omaha World Herald.   24 September 2003   (p. D1).

    Shim, Grace.   "Lasting Legacy."

    Omaha World Herald.   27 April 2003   (p. D1).

    The Associated Press.   "Berkshire Hathaway Ends Charity Program Over Criticism."

    3 July 2003.

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