East Africa’s biggest supermarket chain withdraws Nestle’s Maggi from its shelves

Noodles in trouble.
Noodles in trouble.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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For Maggi, the instant noodle brand produced by Nestle India, it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better.

Last month, Indian regulatory authorities declared that the contents of the company’s packaged soups possess high levels of lead and ordered them off the shelves. While Nestle disputes these findings, the Swiss conglomerate nevertheless flew its global CEO to India to deal with the crisis.

“Unfortunately, recent developments and unfounded concerns about the product have led to an environment of confusion for the consumer, to such an extent that we have decided to withdraw the product off the shelves, despite the product being safe,” a Nestle India statement said.

And now Nakumatt, the Kenyan-based supermarket chain, has decided to withdraw the noodles from its stores in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Sudan, the BBC is reporting.

This could spell trouble for Nestle in east Africa, a region with a potential market of more than 140 million consumers. The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek), the group behind the complaint to remove Maggi from supermarkets, says at least two other Kenyan supermarket chains, Tuskys and Naivas, have also removed the product from store shelves.

As the BBC notes, Maggi noodles are popular in Kenya, while the brand’s seasoning cubes (which are not involved in the recall) are popular in West Africa, where they’re commonly used in the region’s cuisine.