On June 27th, in response to public discussions, Hangzhou-based bottled water and beverages giant Nongfu Spring asserted that there were no ingredients imported from Fukushima, Japan, in its soda products.
Recently, one online scoop claimed that a new soda bubble water launched by Nongfu Spring features the adverting slogan “Made in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan” on the outer packaging and publicity materials. The product’s ingredients are suspected of coming from Fukushima.
A major nuclear leak in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 has caused serious pollution to local food and agricultural products. In order to ensure the safety of food and agricultural products, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has clearly banned the sourcing of imported food, edible agricultural products and feed from 12 counties including Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. Many consumers have raised an eyebrow at Nongfu Spring’s product safety.
Nongfu Spring expressed that the “dawn white peach”, which originated in Fukushima, was introduced to China in the previous century, adding that the ingredients used in its products are all manufactured in China. The local market supervision bureau has delegated law enforcement officers to investigate, verifying that the ingredients in the soda water were not purchased from Fukushima Prefecture.
Some lawyers believe that Nongfu Spring’s advertising has been inconsistent with the facts, and is even suspected of violating advertisement law. “Nongfu Spring mentioned that ‘the dawn white peach is produced in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan’, easily causing misunderstanding among consumers, even though it does not say that the white peach in its soda water ingredients is produced in Fukushima, Japan. Of course, whether it violates advertisement law needs to be judged by relevant authorities.”
Why is sparkling water so hot in today’s beverage market? Mintel, a market consulting company, pointed out in a report that “driven by the market demand for low sugar, low calorie and health-conscious products, the development of sparkling water is extended around taste and design style with infinite possibilities.”
On September 8th 2020, Nongfu Spring listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, opening 85.12% higher on the first day, with a total market value over HK $440 billion, ranking first in food and beverage in Hong Kong stocks. Its share prices then soared to a high of HK $68.75 earlier this year, making Zhong Shanshan the richest man in Asia. Subsequently, Nongfu Spring’s share price has plunged, once falling below the mark of HK $40 per share, marking a tumble of over 40%. The latest share price stands at HK $41.05, with its market value reduced by over HK $280 billion to its current level of HK $461.7 billion.