Coca-Cola China brand threatened as contamination scandal spreads
After announcing the resignation of its general manager, the suspension of several employees and apologizing to customers, Coca-Cola has started to offer exchanges and refunds for chlorine-tainted products that were produced at the bottling plant of its North China arm, Shanxi Beverages Co.
The company announced the move in a statement sent to the Global Times yesterday as it scrambled to repair its brand image following the contamination scandal which first began to unfold in February and continues today.
"We regret that our core values were not met by some individuals at our Shanxi plant. And we sincerely apologize for causing unnecessary concerns among our consumers," said David G. Brooks, president of Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea at a media briefing in Taiyuan, capital city of north China's Shanxi Province.
Despite the chlorine traces found, Brooks said the nine batches of beverages made between February 4 and February 8 are up to national standards and pose no harm to human health.
Coca-Cola halted production at the Shanxi plant in late April, when the provincial food safety watchdog declared its investigation results, confirming earlier media reports about chlorine-tainted drinks. An investigation found the plant guilty of "other production management non-conformities to relevant regulations," according to a statement issued by Shanxi Provincial Bureau of Quality and Technology Supervision.
According to survey results released Friday by the online news portal of People's Daily, 72 percent of a total of 7,506 respondents said that they would stop drinking Coca-Cola products.
China, the third-biggest and a critical growth market for Coca-Cola, accounts for 8 percent of the company's global sales by volume.