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INDIA

Nestlé’s CEO Bulcke: Maggi noodles are ‘safe’

Nestlé chief Paul Bulcke said on Wednesday that he wanted to see its hugely popular Maggi brand of instant noodles back on the Indian market as soon as possible after it was banned over a health scare.

Nestlé's CEO Bulcke: Maggi noodles are 'safe'
Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke. Photo: AFP

India's food safety regulator on June 5th banned the product after tests that it said showed the noodles contained excessive levels of lead.
   
“The only thing that interests me is to have the product back as soon as possible and that things are cleared up,” he told AFP in an interview while visiting the Milan expo.
   
“We are doing all we can to make contact with Indian authorities at the earliest,” he said, adding: “The product is safe.”
   
Asked about the possible impact of the ban on jobs in India, he said production would resume “if we can resolve this fast.”
   
On Monday, the Swiss food giant said that the ban had led to 3.2 billion rupees ($50.5 million) worth of goods being withdrawn.
 
 A Nestlé spokesman said it was the biggest ever withdrawal of a product by the company.

The world's biggest food company is challenging the June 5th order from the government's food safety regulator and is in the process of destroying more than 27,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles after halting production.
   
The company had already announced it was pulling the product from sale when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India imposed a ban following similar moves by some state governments.
   
Nestlé does not give a breakdown of sales per brand but Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, put it at around three billion Swiss francs a year.
   
The safety scare is a huge blow to the company, which has been selling its Maggi products for more than three decades in India, and has 80 percent of the country's instant noodle market.
   
Maggi scored as one of India's five most trusted brands in a consumer survey conducted last year.
   
Several celebrities have endorsed Maggi over the years, including Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

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NESTLE

‘Unlimited resources’: Switzerland’s Nestle goes vegan

Swiss food giant Nestle, which has made billions with dairy products, said Monday it will host start-ups that want to develop vegetarian alternatives.

'Unlimited resources': Switzerland's Nestle goes vegan
Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Nestle could thus find itself at the forefront of a sector that has strong growth potential, an analyst commented.

It plans to open its research and development (R&D) centre in Konolfingen, Switzerland to “start-ups, students and scientists” a statement said.

In addition to testing sustainable dairy products, the group plans to encourage work on plant-based dairy alternatives, it added.

Chief executive Mark Schneider was quoted as saying that “innovation in milk products and plant-based dairy alternatives is core to Nestle's portfolio strategy.”

The group unveiled a vegetable-based milk that had already been developed with the process, and technical director Stefan Palzer told AFP it planned to focus on 100-200 such projects a year.

Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, noted that while Nestle had missed some consumer trends in the past, it has now “taken something of a lead in the plant-based alternative market for food”.

And “given its pretty much unlimited resources, Nestle is going to come out one of the winners in the space,” Cox forecast in an e-mail.

Nestle said that “internal, external and mixed teams” would work at the R&D centre over six-month periods.

Nestle would provide “expertise and key equipment such as small to medium-scale production equipment to facilitate the rapid upscaling of products for a test launch in a retail environment,” it added.

The Swiss food giant has long been known for its dairy products, but faced a boycott in the 1970s for allegedly discouraging mothers in developing countries from breastfeeding even though it was cheaper and more nutritious than powdered formula.

On Monday, the group's statement also underscored that the research initiative was part of its commitment to help fight global warming.

“As a company, we have set ambitious climate goals. This is part of our promise to develop products that are good for you and good for the planet,” it said.

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