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Noodle wars get nasty

News, 20 November 2015
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NEW DELHI: As Nestlé India looks to get its Maggi brand back on track after its ban, other companies are eyeing up this market, including the fast-growing Patanjali which has found itself embroiled in a bureaucratic battle with the FSSAI.

The food regulator has said that Patanjali, an FMCG business founded by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, had not been granted approval or a licence for the range of instant noodles it has launched.

Patanjali, however, maintains that it has a licence for pasta and that noodles come under the 'pasta' category.

"Our representatives are going to the FSSAI headquarters with original copies of the selling licence, along with the manufacturer's licence," said Ramdev. "It seems there is an issue of lack of coordination and it could be resolved by sitting together."

The intervention of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), denouncing "crony capitalist swamis", has added another layer of intrigue.

Last month Patanjali tied up with leading retail group Future Group to extend the distribution of its range of ayurvedic products, which include fruit juices, herb tea and toiletries as well as noodles.

Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, questioned the reasoning behind the launch of Patanjali noodles.

"While a lot of food and nutraceutical products resonate easily with the Patanjali brand, instant noodles seems completely counterintuitive under this brand's umbrella," he told Quartz India. "How much consumers will support this new launch remains to be seen."

According to Quartz, Patanjali Ayurved Ltd is now one of the fastest growing FMCG businesses in India, and could soon rival long-established and bigger names like HUL, Nestlé and ITC Foods. The planned launch of a range of yoga wear will also see it pitched against global sportswear giants Nike and Adidas.

The business model developed by the company has generally eschewed mainstream advertising, preferring instead to rely on the personal endorsement of Ramdev and his instructors and followers, who include a number of popular celebrities. But as it has got bigger it has taken on agencies.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Financial Express, Quartz India; additional content by Warc staff

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