Cross your heart and say that you have not had Maggi and that you don’t love it and I shall name my site after you. We have all grown up to Maggi and loved it, from our childhood till date, when we are out on mountains, on a trek, bike ride, picnic, anywhere.
So, why is it that there is so much PR about Maggi for the last 15 days. What is the real deal? Well I don’t know as I am not an insider but having worked with an FMCG (HUL) and having managed food brands like Annapurna, I know how food companies, of the reputation of Nestle, operate.
The views here are my own basis what I have understood of the situation and is totally an unbiased view.
What really happened? One of the labs in remote part of the country bought a pack of Maggi noodles, opened the pack, let it remain open for two months and then tested it. Tested it how, tested just the tastemaker and declared it unfit for consumption because of high lead content (4.5 ppm) and presence of MSG.
There are three basic flaws here: 1. Standard test conditions were not followed while testing, how can the pack be left open for 2 months, let it get contaminated and then test it. The characteristics of a product change when exposed to heat and light and air. 2. Maggi or any food packet clearly mentions how it has to be consumed. In this case Maggi has the process clearly mentioned, we all remember it by heart now, break the noodles into 4 pieces, take two cups water, boil, add noodles, add tastemaker, cook and eat. Why on earth or who in their senses would go ahead and test just the taste make when it is not the end state how it is consumed. 3. The permissible limit for spices is 10 ppm of lead so, the product is fine. Also there is no regulation on levels of MSG. How is it not within permissible limits?
Given the media frenzy, all states took the bait, tested the product the wrong way and banned the product. How, why? And now that they have taken the stand, they would try to prove themselves correct and the brand would suffer for doing nothing wrong.
I have seen the level of cleanliness, hygiene, testing, attention to details. Rigorous testing that goes into making s world class product like Maggi and when Maggi is bread and butter for Nestle in India, do you think they would be fools to be lax in their standards and let 30% of their company sales be at stake. These companies grow big only on trust and also the fact that all efforts are put in to put consumer first, always.
Similar situations have happened with Cadbury, colas, Dhara and all brands have come clean not because they had the money or they bribed the way through but because they were not in the wrong. Their standards were high.
What will happen now?
States would be adamant and not give in for some time, matter will cool done, Nestle will have to spend crores of rupees to build thee brand equity and reputation they have lost in the last two weeks. PR team, QC team and brand management teams will have to work extra hard, sleepless night to get the lost sales back while Top Ramen ans Knorr will see sudden jump in market shares.
What should Nestle do?
Be aggressive, share their lab reports, sue the govt. and erratic labs for loss of brand image and come back with a bang.
I know it’s not that easy and only time will tell how the story unfolds but whatever has happened is sad and should have been avoided through better understanding and knowledgeable decision making rather than jumping the gun by everyone.
I am having Maggi for dinner tonight. Go get your pack.