• Switzerland's news in English

Nestlé chief Bulcke battles Maggi 'black eye'

Nathalie Olof-Ors/AFP · 24 Jun 2015, 14:52

Published: 24 Jun 2015 14:52 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Bulcke insisted that its hugely popular Maggi brand was 100 percent safe, saying that packaged food was unfairly fingered by many around the world as a health risk.
The Vevey-based food giant's reputation took a bashing "because it's a big brand and that (ban) made a lot of waves," the Belgian chief executive told AFP in an interview.
India's food safety regulator on June 5th outlawed the product after it said tests showed the noodles contained excessive levels of lead.
The largest food company by revenues is challenging the order and is in the process of destroying more than 27,000 tonnes of Maggi noodles after halting production — a Herculean task given India's size.
The ban had led to 3.2 billion rupees (44.5 million euros, $50.5 million) worth of goods being withdrawn, the company said.
Nestlé 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.

'Perception counts' 

"One can have facts on one's side but it's the perception that counts," Bulcke said, explaining the company's decision to withdraw and destroy the product.
"Food has never been safer," he said.

"But there is this perception and we have to work on that. We have to reconnect with consumers."

According to Brand Finance, a consultancy firm, Maggi is set to lose over $200 million in brand value following the setback in India.
Maggi was previously valued at $2.4 billion, Brand Finance said, adding that it had ranked the noodle manufacturer as the 23rd most valuable food brand in the world.
The ban in India could have devastating implications for Maggi in neighbouring countries where it is also very popular, experts warn.
"The only thing that interests me is to have the product back as soon as possible and that things are cleared up," said Bulcke, who took over as Nestlé's chief executive in 2008.
"We are doing all we can to make contact with Indian authorities at the earliest," he said, adding:

"The product is safe."
Nestlé notched up sales of 13.5 billion francs ($14.4 billion) in ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook meals last year, the third most profitable sector for the company after soft drinks and milk products and ice cream.

Concern over 'industrial food'

Story continues below…

The food industry has been rocked by several scandals in recent years including tainted milk in China and horse meat being fraudulently passed off as beef in Europe.
There have also been growing concerns over obesity and the health effects of processed or "industrial" food
Bulcke said Nestlé, which has made nutrition, health and well-being the main axes of development, had invested enormous sums to develop balanced and healthy products, notably reducing the levels of sugar and salt.
Nestlé is currently trying to relaunch frozen meals in North America.
As for India, Bulcke says he wants to get Maggi noodles back on the shelves "as soon as possible."
Maggi noodles grew increasingly popular as more and more Indians moved away from their home villages to study or seek work.
It emerged as one of India's five most trusted brands in a consumer survey conducted last year.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nathalie Olof-Ors/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available