Love for Maggi in the Covid-19 Times: Sales Zooms during pandemic

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Sales of one of the country’s biggest packaged foods brands, Nestle’s Maggi instant noodles, have gone up amidst the ongoing lockdown even as the company is in talks with the authorities to ensure minimal impact on operations. Demand for Maggi surged by at least 20-25% over the average ‘pre-COVID’ numbers. They have started to ramp up the manufacturing across the 8 factories including 5 factories that produce Maggie range during lockdown 1.0 and this involved reviving all the hundreds of suppliers, wheat flour millers, packaging suppliers, and other service providers.

According to a recent ET report, Nestle India, maker of brands like Nescafe, Cerelac, Kit Kat and A+ (milk and curds), emerged as the fastest growing in the FMCG segment during this lockdown. Amid a supply crunch of food and other essential products in the trade outlets and local stores as a result of lockdown across the country, Nestle India, the makers of Maggi noodles, in a digital campaign, has promised to bring back the company’s most loved product. The company posted a 10.7% year-on-year revenue growth in the March 2020 quarter which is the highest among peers, while the operating profit rose by 5.4%.

Lockdown love for Maggi, however, seems to be inconsistent with food trends and emerging consumer behaviour. Covid-19 has made a shift in the priorities of people, a change towards caring more about health, and eating well. The companies are adding herbs, Khalid, and other healthy stuff in everything from atta to lipstick, pitching these products as ‘immunity boosters. The only thing Maggi boosts is one’s mood.

Nestle chairman Suresh Narayanan, who had brought back Maggi from the brink five years back after the brand was banned by the food regulator and subsequently cleared of the allegations, said the company’s immediate task was to ensure that food and beverage products be made available to consumers throughout the country.

Cleared of allegations, by 2019, Maggi sales surpassed the pre-ban level, in terms of both volume and value. This year, after Covid-19 hit India, consumers who boycotted Maggi five years ago, stockpiled the instant noodle during the nation-wide lockdown in an apocalyptic fashion. Now more than ever, Maggi is “emotionally satisfying” food, back-up dinner, and indulgent snack for many more people.

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