Nestle India, whose flagship brand 'Maggi' had faced countrywide ban over alleged excessive lead content, will be using consumer engagement and digital marketing platforms...
Nestle India, whose flagship brand ‘Maggi’ had faced countrywide ban over alleged excessive lead content, will be using consumer engagement and digital marketing platforms to re-establish consumer trust in the product before bringing the popular instant noodles back to the table by the year-end.
Talking to reporters here today, Nestle India managing director Suresh Narayanan said manufacturing of the noodles would begin after a first round of testing, following which the samples would be tested again, and once cleared by the regulators, they would be put back onto shelves before the year-end.
Talking about the measures to be taken by the Swiss food major, he said, “the entire consumer engagement landscape is changing. Going forward, we are setting up robust and far-reaching consumer engagement platforms and compelling digital marketing platforms. It’s a question of re-establishing the primacy of trust in the brand.”
“There are huge opportunities in the digital space. We have a digital acceleration team, and a lot of them are young. In fact, they are responsible for the recent ‘We Miss You Too’ Maggi campaign,” he added.
Narayanan said the company is looking at setting up 24×7 toll-free consumer services in order to “get the connect, and connectivity with the consumer.
“For us, the concept is not just digital media, but of competing in a digitally-connected age,” he said.
In a major relief to the company, the Bombay High Court had, on August 13, quashed the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) order banning Maggi for six weeks. The HC asked Nestle to send fresh samples for testing at accredited labs and if the tests were cleared, the noodles could return to India’s shelves.
“We will first bring back our big-hitters, which is what consumers want. Other opportunities will be considered as time evolves, and we get greater clarity on product approvals,” he said, when asked about re-introducing other variants of Maggi like oats.
Narayanan, who is five weeks into his new role as MD of Nestle India, also assured that the company is committed to engaging with the food safety regulator FSSAI on a “professional forward looking basis”.
“A lot of work needs to to be done by the industry as a whole along with the regulator to define the infrastructure, protocol, safety standards, not just of noodles but standards of all processed foods,” he said.
“Nestle has taken a big hit, but this is a rallying point to define standards for putting out genuinely safe products using fair principles,” he added.
He called it a “golden moment” for the food processing industry as a whole to get its act together and contribute significantly to the ‘Make in India’ programme.
He also said that nearly 7,200 employees of Nestle India have been engaged in alternate programmes and training and not one of them has lost his job. “We are keen to resume business,” he indicated. Five factories presently remain shut.
Besides, over 15,000 spice farmers, four lakh wheat farmers, 38 distribution centres, hundreds of distributors, suppliers, vendors, retailers and hawkers are impacted by the ban on Maggi noodles, he pointed out.