Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fonterra, Why You Again?

Parents across China are in panic when newspapers revealed many girls and infants were found to sexually matured.  Their breasts developed and their female hormone level are equal or higher than female adults.  They all had been drinking milk powder produced by 'ShengYuan'.

Resembling what happened after the melamine tragedy two years ago when millions children poisoned and hundreds died, the government reacted exactly the same.  The national diary monitoring agency refused to test the milk powder sent to them by parents, citing cost issue.  While news and rumors alike keep fomenting for days and into weeks, not even one sample of milk had been tested.  Well, that's what you expected from a communism dictatorship control, right?

Yes, but there is other discoveries, not on communism ideology, but on greedy money, nonetheless.

Recall the melamine incident two years ago.  The manufacture, SanLu (or Triple Deers in Chinese), which was found to produce the fatal milk over years were a subsidiary of the Fonterra of New Zealand.  Fonterra claimed that although they knew the issue long before, they couldn't tell the public because they only have 44% share of the manufacture.  On one hand they urged their Chinese partners to alert the public, on the other hand, they sat still watching millions of children poisoned by their milk each and everyday and did nothing to stop the production.  Fonterra acted only after Chinese news media broke out the horror story.  Fonterra notified then New Zealand Prime Minister, who commanded her Foreign Minister to talk about this with his Chinese counterpart.

This time, too, Fonterra is talking after the news media stepped in.  ShengYuan had long claimed Fonterra as its exclusive source of diary materials.  Imported source had been the most known sell point of ShengYuan.  Many Chinese parents who had been scared from the quality issue of Chinese product buy ShengYuan diary product because of this line.  Only after the news coverage of the hormone issue, Fonterra released an announcement stating that it was not ShengYuan's exclusive source for raw materials.

Why You Again? Fonterra?

Fonterra is not the only foreign diary player in China.  As a matter of fact, all major international diary producers had significant presence in China, the largest diary market in the world.  In the aftermath of the melamine incident two years ago, and numerous other quality related issues, many Chinese consumers only buy foreign imports and foreign brands.  ShengYuan is the only domestic brand with meaningful market share in infant diary product.  That largely have to be attributed to their advertising line of the Fonterra tie.  How come Fonterra is the one who is linked to the only two major diary product scandals? Why Fonterra?

Only greediness can explain.  Instead of setting up partnership with reputed brands or setting up own produce and manufacture channels like other international brands do, Fonterra adopted a cheap approach to the Chinese market by lending its names to junk brands, like Sanlu and ShengYuan.  Fonterra enjoyed the profits when it worked, and severed the tie when it didn't.  Fonterra, do you really think you can come out of this clean?

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