New Delhi, Aug 1: Suresh Narayanan, the new India chief of the $97.5 billion Swiss processed food giant Nestle, on Saturday said the popular instant noodle brand Maggi will be back on retail shelves as soon as possible even as the the company will now focus on other areas of operations as well.
Narayanan, 55, who officially took charge of India operations on Saturday replacing managing director Etienne Benet who stepped down on July 25, said dairy, chocolates and confectioneries will all be in focus to push growth.
“All of this is part of the agenda,” he said in a meeting with select media persons.
He, however, declined any direct comment on the controversy over the ban on Maggi noodles, over which Nestle has moved the Bombay High Court. “We have to get back Maggi on the shelves. As of now, the matter is sub judice. Everything depends on the outcome. Let’s wait and see,” he said.
“The journey of Maggi will continue and the journey of other categories will also be emphasised.”
Having specifically flown in to India from Manila, where he was overseeing the Philippines operations as chairman, Narayanan said he had faced a a host of challenges in his career and that the current one too would tide over.
The Bombay High Court is expected to deliver its verdict on the Maggi ban on Monday.
India’s official food regulator on June 5 had banned the sale of Maggi after an allegedly high amount of lead and monosodium glutamate (MSG) were found in samples. Following that, Nestle withdrew all the variants of the noodle, while continuing to maintain that its products were safe.
At the same time, a number of other countries also found the noodle imported from India to be safe. The countries included Britain, Singapore and Canada.
For Nestle India, Maggi was the dominant brand under “prepared dishes and cooking aids” and accounted for 31.5 percent of the sales in 2014. Among the other three divisions, “milk products and nutrition” fetched 47.1 percent, followed by 12.2 percent for “chocolates and confectionery” and 9.2 percent for “beverages”.
The Maggi unit saw a 1.8 percent increase in volumes in 2014 over the previous year and 8.1-percent rise in value at Rs.21.4 billion.