News

Walmart recalls donkey meat in China

Walmart recalls donkey meat in China

RECALL: A customer looks at her child on a shopping trolley as they take an escalator at a Wal-Mart supermarket in Wuhan, Hubei province Dec. 3, 2011. Photo: Reuters

By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Walmart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, has recalled donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals, the U.S. company said.

Walmart will reimburse customers who bought the tainted “Five Spice” donkey meat and is helping local food and industry agencies in eastern Shandong province investigate its Chinese supplier, it said late on Wednesday in official posts on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration earlier said the product contained fox meat.

The scandal could dent Walmart’s reputation for quality in China’s $1 trillion food and grocery market where it plans to open 110 new stores in the next few years. China is the largest grocery market in the world and is set to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2016, according to the Institute of Grocery Distribution.

“This is another hit on Walmart’s brand, meaning wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust they had before,” said Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research (CMR) Group. CMR estimates Walmart’s market share fell from 7.5 percent to 5.2 percent over the last three years.

Donkey meat is a popular snack in some areas of China, although it only accounts for a tiny fraction of overall meat consumption. In 2011 China slaughtered 2.4 million donkeys, according to country’s livestock industry yearbook.

TRACK RECORD

Walmart, French grocer Carrefour SA, McDonald’s Corp and KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc among others, have come under fire before in China over food safety issues, a sensitive topic in a country riddled with scares from a fatal tainted milk scandal to recycled “gutter oil” used for cooking.

Walmart said it had set up an investigation team to look into the incident, would strengthen food safety rules and take legal action against the product supplier. It added the person in charge at the supplier factory had already been detained.

“We are deeply sorry for this whole affair,” said Walmart’s China president and CEO, Greg Foran. “It is a deep lesson (for us) that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management.”

The U.S. retailer has had a troubled past in China. In 2011, China fined Walmart, along with Carrefour, a combined 9.5 million yuan ($1.57 million) for manipulating product prices. Walmart was also fined that year in China for selling duck meat past its expiration date.

Food safety scandals can have a significant impact in China. Yum has struggled to recover sales in China more than a year after a chicken supplier to KFC in the country was found to have used excess levels of antibiotics. Analysts, though, said the impact of the current scare would be far more subdued.

Walmart, which operates more than 400 facilities in China, competes with market leaders Sun Art Retail Group Ltd and China Resources Enterprise Ltd, which in August teamed up with British retailer Tesco Plc.

Consumers on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo were at a loss whether to criticize Walmart or support it. Online sentiment can spread quickly in China where there is a high proportion of social media users.

“Isn’t fox meat more expensive than donkey meat anyway?” asked one bemused user.

($1 = 6.0539 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by SHANGHAI newsroom; Editing by Matt Driskill)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Alger man shot in Ferndale

Fresh
bullet

Police: May have been stray bullet

in Entertainment

Today’s celebrity birthdays

tomlin

These celebrities will celebrate their birthdays on Labor Day.

in Local Sports

Kasey Kahne holds off Kenseth to win Atlanta shootout

Checkered-flag

Kasey Kahne grabbed the lead on the restart following a caution with 23 laps remaining and held off Matt Kenseth in a two-lap shootout to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

in Local Sports

Fred Couples wins Champions Tour event

Fred Couples walks up to the ninth green during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 11, 2014, in Augusta, Ga.

Fred Couples won the Champions Tour's Shaw Charity Classic on Sunday, chipping in for eagle for a course-record 9-under 61 and beating Billy Andrade with a tap-in birdie on the first hole of a playoff.

in Local Sports

FC Kansas City wins NWSL title over Seattle, 2-1

Seattle Reign FC goalie Hope Solo waves to fans after an NWSL soccer game against the Sky Blue FC Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Seattle. Solo was arrested at a suburban Seattle home on suspicion of assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew a week ago, then pleaded not guilty and was released without bail after a court appearance Monday, June 23. She was eligible to play in Saturday's match, but did not start.

Amy Rodriguez scored twice as FC Kansas City won the National Women's Soccer League title with a 2-1 win over Seattle Reign FC at Starfire Stadium on Sunday.