An apex consumer court posted for Tuesday the hearing of the Rs.640-crore class action suit filed by the Indian government against Nestle’s Indian arm regarding its Maggi instant noodles.
A bench of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of Justice V.K. Jain and Justice B.C. Gupta on Monday posted the matter for November 24 after the government counsel requested to allow 31 more noodle samples to be tested.
After a five-month ban on its marquee product Maggi instant noodles by the national food watchdog Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Nestle relaunched its product in the market on November 9.
The class action suit was filed by the government, accusing the company of unfair trade practices
Nestle India CEO admits Maggi ban was the result of a major breakdown in communication with the Govt
The sense of relief is palpable and the delight at having Maggi back on the shelves in India couldn’t have been writ larger on Suresh Narayanan’s face. Narayanan, the new CEO of Nestle India, was brought in to salvage the situation after catastrophe struck the company earlier this year, one of the world’s largest FMCG companies. For the record, Maggi has been successfully launched back into Indian retail shelves and is being slurped down equally happily across the nation. So, after the tumultuous six months from being banned to being back, what is that one lesson that the entire team of Nestle India has learnt? It is the realization that more than anything else, this multi-thousand crore dent to their revenues in India in the shape of the Maggi-ban was in effect a humongous PR failure – mishandled communication between the company and the food regulatory authorities that led to a spiraling of the tense situation in between the two parties in May this year, before the instant noodles was eventually banned.
“The testing of lead did involve sophisticated equipment, protocols that were fairly well defined and rigorous and also involved testing people who also had to be suitably qualified. All this meant that there were certain labs that were accredited by the NABL and we were only submitting most humbly to the food authorities, if you have wrong reading of the results, it can lead to misinterpretation of the safety and quality of our product. Nestle always chooses direct dialogue respectfully with the authorities which is what we chose at the beginning but it clearly led to a spiraling of the situation,” he said.
He went on to say that the company had not violated any food safety norms. “We believe we have not violated any principle but fundamentally we have been reiterating the tenet of the organization that quality equals to trust. We wanted to get across to the FSSAI who for us will always remain the primary food regulator in the country,” he said, on the sidelines of ‘Shared Value Summit’ at Leela hotel in Gurgaon.
On the concept of ‘Creating Shared Value’, Narayanan said that the purpose of business is defined not only by growth and profit, but is embedded in the society in which it operates and the various people that it involves.
“Business can progress only when it embeds itself into the value of society and indulge in a form of engagement so that both can gain. We have been able to follow it with our milk, fossil and chicken farmers. Our own market capitalization has increased over 30 times in the last 20 years, and it has all happened because of efforts being put in not only the commercial areas of the operation but also because our partnership with society has evolved across all the countries that we are present in,” he said.