Nongfu Springs embarks on crisis communications after controversial promo drags stock prices down
Chinese bottled water brand Nongfu Springs has asked Chinese news site TouTiao and relevant media and social media platforms to remove any post or comment that could further damage the brand’s reputation. This follows recent claims that the brand used ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture in Japan for its peach sparkling water. Fukushima was hit by a nuclear accident in 2011. According to Weibo’s post, Nongfu Springs said the articles were defamatory of the brand.
According to multiple media outlets, including the Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET), a photo from a Nongfu Springs ad, which has since been removed, indicated that its peach sparkling water was using peaches from Fukushima. This has raised concerns about the potential risk of radiation contamination in ingredients, according to media reports. Following the news, HKET said Nongfu Springs’ stock price fell 6.2% to a low of HK $ 38.5. As of June 28, it was HK $ 40.25.
At the same time, the brand clarified in Weibo’s statement that the drink’s ingredients are not imported from Fukushima. Instead, the company’s R&D team created a similar flavor for the prefecture’s peach drink, and the drink bears no relation to the peaches produced in Fukushima. Nongfu Springs added that its products meet the requirements of relevant laws and regulations.
Netizens, however, weren’t buying the Nongfu Springs explanation. Several of them pointed out that the company initially used the words “Fukushima Prefecture” in its advertisement. Another user said he was intrigued that a large company like Nongfu Springs lacked market sense and instead used the words “Japan” and “Fukushima” to catch the eye. .
Following the 2011 nuclear incident, imports of Japanese food products, including dairy products and vegetables, from five Japanese prefectures were banned by China, South China Morning Post mentionned. These were Fukushima, Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki and Chiba, and it was done amid radiation fears after the Daiichi nuclear power plant melted in the wake of a tsunami.