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Will Maggi's comeback be a long road to recovery?

Will Maggi's comeback be a long road to recovery?

Author | Sarmistha Neogy | Tuesday, Aug 25,2015 7:46 AM

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Will Maggi's comeback be a long road to recovery?

In the light of recent positive developments around Maggi, with Bombay High Court lifting the ban on the product, there are reports stating that Maggi will be back soon. To add to this, the newly appointed Nestle India Managing Director, Suresh Narayanan has said that Maggi noodles could hit the market by the end of this year. As per reports, he pointed out that it won’t be possible in this quarter, because there are several tests lined up.  

According to the HC order, the ban has been lifted, but fresh tests have been ordered to prove that the instant noodle doesn’t contain excess lead. Nestle India will have to get 5 Maggi samples tested by three accredited labs to prove the amount of lead is within permissible limits. If the tests are in Nestle's favour, they can start selling the noodles again. This has led to a sense of positivety in the market, with brand loyalists and fans, eagerly welcoming the HC’s order and hoping to see the product in the shelves soon.

However, it is not going to be an easy task for the global conglomerate to win back the confidence of its consumers since the product was declared as ‘unsafe for consumption’ by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It came under severe country wide scrutiny for high content of lead and mono-sodium glutamate. As a result of which, on June 5th, Nestle India reconfirmed that their Maggi noodles are safe but still decided to take the product off the shelves. More than Rs 320 crore Maggi was recalled from the market and Rs 20 crore was given to Ambuja Cements to destroy the packets of the products. This dented the earnings of Nestle India and they reported a loss of Rs 64.4 crore, their first quarterly loss in three decades.  

As a result of this entire controversy, the image of the brand also has suffered because of their inability to handle the crisis effectively. It received immense flak for their dismissive approach and incompetency in tackling the situation.  The audience was basically divided into two- one who wanted explanation from the company for feeding them with poisonous substance and the second lot, didn’t entirely believe the news, driven by loyalty for the product. But there was no communication from Nestle for a long time, as a result of this, things flared up and got out of control.

Celebrity brand endorsers of Maggi-Madhuri Dixit, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta were dragged into the controversy, after an FIR was lodged against them for misleading people because of endorsing products which are harmful to the consumers. A couple of them disowned on the grounds that the association was long ago and Amitabh Bachchan also recently sought dismissal of the complaint lodged against him. According to experts, this is not how things should go, even if anything goes wrong, both the brand and the ambassadors should stand by each other. There was also news that following the Maggi ban, one plant worker committed suicide after getting jobless. Recent reports state that many of the 1,100 odd contractual labourers at the Nestle plant in Rudrapur have taken up odd jobs of rickshaw pullers, tea vendors, building labourers.

Reportedly, the Indian Research Centre of Harvard Business School is said to be working on the Maggi case study as on one of the country's biggest food recalls. According to closed sources, Maggi is soon expected to get aggressive on the digital front, with a series of online ads, which will be testimonial-led as their revival strategy.

Now if Maggi has plans of returning, the new US- based public relation firm APCO World Wide which was recently roped in, will have to do a lot for reputation management and winning the confidence of the people.

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