Editorial in Port Wings, June 10, 2015:
Ever since the Government of India pulled the plug on Nestle product Maggi noodles citing food safety and consumption issues, there has been a hue and cry over the status (rather quality) of MNC products across the country.
As anticipated, media playing its role in fanning the crisis as something happening for the first time in the country.
It was the state of Uttar Pradesh, which cracked down on the otherwise famously know 2-minutes readymade food, first more than a week ago. And the other states, starting from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu joined the band wagon and culminated their zest with either banning the product or forcing the shops to clear the stocks from shelves.
While there is no question about the action that followed the flurry of reactions both online as well as off-line, the issue has opened Pandora ’s Box for the multi-national companies to revisit their strategies in marketing their products in Indian market.
Before the entry of MNCs in food products-related market in India, there were a few Desi players who ruled the market share for years.
With the Globalization, Indian markets were opened for MNCs and it marked the beginning of end of the Desi players. They were unable to withstand the flurry of advertisement campaigns unleashed by the MNCs in promoting their products. After a period, most of the desi players, who were just unable to market their products, started disappearing one by one, and a few merged their businesses with the giant MNCs to stay back in the market.
While the market forces as well as the consumers put blame on the very Desi players for not able to match the quality offered by the MNCs in their products and disappearing from the market, they failed to notice that it was the clear strategy by the MNCs to beat the Desi players through vigorous advertisement campaigns and monopolize the segment with their products later.
Regular drinkers of carbonated drinks offered by a well-known company would tell the difference in the taste of the same brand offered by the company in Singapore, Dubai and in India.
While the company always claimed that it was the outcome of the water sourced in these countries for manufacturing, users know that the company employs a different standards for different countries.
And it is the case with the most of the MNCs in the world’s largest market, who prefer to follow different standards for Indian consumers.
Until now, there were no reports of Indian Food Safety Authority doing regular sample checks on these MNCs products in the country. But the time has now to start implementing stringent measures for both the Desi players as well as MNCs to ensure that consumers get the right products, not the one that has been customized to meet Indian standards.
The crisis also opened an opportunity for the Modi Government to check the quality of products made available to Indian consumers by both Indian as well as Multi-National companies.