Nestle India Ltd will focus on growing its dairy, coffee and confectionary businesses, its new boss said, as the company battles to bring back its popular Maggi noodles that were pulled from shelves over safety concerns.The unit of Swiss food giant Nestle is at the centre of India's worst food scare in a decade after a regulator found its Maggi noodles contained dangerous levels of lead. Nestle India has maintained that Maggi is safe, and is challenging the regulator in court.Suresh Narayanan, who was named managing director of Nestle India last week, said his priority would be to expand other business segments to reduce the company's reliance on Maggi. "It's a fact that Maggi is a big part, I am not diluting that fact," Narayanan told journalists on Saturday. "But what for me is going to be key is to grow other categories as well: dairy, coffee, confectionery." The Maggi scare has affected the company's other businesses too, he said.Narayanan said he was hopeful that Maggi would come back but he would not "hazard a guess" on the timing. Maggi noodles have been recalled across India and production has been halted. The appointment of Narayanan, an Indian national who most recently headed Nestle's operations in the Philippines, was seen as part of a damage-control exercise as Nestle had been criticised for its slow response to a reputation crisis.Etienne Benet, Nestle India's former managing director, has moved to head office in Switzerland. "My being an Indian, as my boss says, is icing on the cake. Being an Indian makes me familiar," said Narayanan, adding he was not in a "confrontational" situation with authorities. "My fervent hope is that we are able to find a solution."
© Thomson Reuters 2015
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