Nestle India on Monday said it has begun the roll-out of Maggi noodles in 100 cities, terming the five-month ban as “one of the biggest crises” it has faced in the 32-year history of the brand in the country. It also announced a pact with Snapdeal for online sales.
“The return of Maggi Noodles on the auspicious eve of Deepawali and on the day of Dhanteras is a moment of celebration for all of us,” Nestle India chairman and managing director Suresh Nayaranan said, announcing the re-launch, after it was taken off the shelves on June 5.
“The crisis we went through is a big one for Nestle India. But we were always confident about the quality and safety of Maggi noodles. It is an important brand for the company,” Narayanan told a round-table with journalists to announce the re-launch.
The first to hit the shelves will be the masala variant and others will follow later, he said.
“Maggi noodles has special relationships and strong emotional bonds with consumers across the country and I am confident our bonds will grow stronger,” he said. “Separately, Nestle India is pleased to partner with Snapdeal to roll-out online offers to mark tis special occasion.”
On June 5, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had ordered a pan-India ban on the company’s noodles on the ground that these were “unsafe and hazardous” for humans due to the presence of lead, allegedly beyond permissible limits.
After a five-month legal battle, Nestle said last Wednesday that the “masala” version of Maggi noodles will hit the retail shelves as early as this month having cleared all tests ordered by the Bombay High Court at three accredited laboratories.
The re-launched popular snack would be exactly the same as it was pre-crisis, and would be have the same product formula, Narayanan said, adding: The packaging, however, will not have the line “no-added MSG (monosodium glutamate)” which, too, had become a contentious issue.
Referring to the crisis after some tests conducted by the food safety authorities allegedly found more-than-permissible levels of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG), the Nestle India chief said the MSG in the packs was in its natural form, withour additives or taste enhancers.
Pointing out that Maggi noodles alone contributed 25-30 percent of the India business, Narayanan said the company will take up extensive marketing campaigns for the product.
Now what remains to be resolved is the Rs.640-crore class action suit filed by the government for allegedly misleading the public and indulging in unfair trace practices. This case is scheduled to come up again before the apex consumer court on November 23.