Nestle India, which has been in the thick of a controversy with its Maggi noodles, is reassessing all aspects of the brand, including the ingredients used.

Maggi, one of the most popular products from the Nestle stable, has been facing scrutiny for allegedly breaching the prescribed food norms of the Indian regulator. While the company and the regulator are battling it out in the court, Suresh Narayanan, the newly appointed Managing Director of Nestle India, maintained that the multinational was not in the mood for ‘confrontation’, but would engage in a dialogue with the authorities.

Acknowledging that the controversy and the subsequent recall had hit the company’s revenue, he said, Nestle India is reassessing the product. “We have a process of introspection in terms of learning in the organisation, in terms of what we did right, what we did not do right ... internalise these learnings and move forward,” he said.

Total overhaul

“The whole business segment (Maggi) has been dismantled, from procurement to manufacturing to distribution and supply chain. The whole system is now in a state of freeze,” he said, adding he would not “hazard a guess” on how much time it would take to revive it. Asked if it was the end of Brand Maggi if the court verdict goes against the company, he said: “My fervent hope is that we are able to find a solution, resolve the issue, bring Maggi back, and move forward.”

Narayanan admitted that the controversy has had an impact on the rest of its portfolio as the products are sold in similar outlets and geographies. He said the company will increase marketing and advertising spends to counter this impact.

On the possibility of workforce cuts, he said: “Let me say this categorically — every single permanent employee of the company has his job. …one of my key mandates is to engage with the people and … bring back their self-confidence; ultimately our growth agenda is on their shoulders.”

Learning from its recent experience, the company will also be looking at reducing overdependence on one product. Besides Maggi, it will also focus on increasing growth in other product categories such as dairy, coffee and beverages, chocolate and confectionary and nutrition.

“The Maggi journey will continue, but the journey in other categories also needs to be emphasised,” said Narayanan.