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Maggi is Back

... Business Standard:

Maggi returned to shop shelves in 100 cities on Monday, five months after the instant noodles brand was pulled out of the markets over safety concerns.
Nestlé is stocking up on Maggi’s most favoured masala variant in the first phase of the relaunch. It will not be available in eight states where local bans are still on. Maggi noodles will be available online from November 12, exclusively on Snapdeal.

Nestlé withdrew Maggi on June 5, after several states banned its sales on reports that the noodles were hazardous for human consumption. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India issued an order of recall, hours after the company’s withdrawal, imposing a ban on production, promotion, distribution, sale and export.

“We expect to reach all the markets by the end of this month,” said Suresh Narayanan, chairman and managing director, Nestlé India. According to him, the company is currently focusing on crucial markets since the ban and controversy that followed have hampered the brand’s reputation. “Maggi has an ecosystem, including farmers, suppliers, transporters, distributors, salesmen and employees. This episode has disrupted it and it will take some time to reestablish.” The selection of the variant, markets and timing are a part of the effort he says.

Nestlé is in talks with authorities in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Odisha, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, where sale of Maggi noodles is still banned. Having the ban lifted in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh is critical because two of the five Maggi manufacturing units are in these states. “Our factories in Pantnagar and Tahliwal are major producers of Maggi noodles and having the ban lifted in these two states is important, which I hope to see happening in a few weeks,” Narayanan said.

While, making Maggi noodle available to more areas is an important task for Nestle, customer awareness and promotion are no less significant given the loss it has suffered due to the controversy in the past months. “Doubt has been planted in consumers’ minds. We have to ensure the people know that Maggi noodles are completely safe.” Nestlé has come up with a promotion strategy on traditional media, digital campaigns and ground-level consumer awareness activities, to achieve that. While, the traditional media channels like the television and print ads will be used to convey the safe-ness of the noodles, Nestle will woo younger consumers through ‘digital connection’ programme.

Although, the noodle has hit the retail shelves now, to get back to the sales level that Maggi noodles used to generate before the controversy started is still far away. Maggi noodles used to be sold through some 4 million outlets in the country. For that, the bans have to be lifted, consumer trust has to be reestablished and all the players of the ecosystem has to be in synch. And Nestle is on track to reach its goal as soon as possible, Narayanan says.          

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