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 Sports

AP Source: Pacers sign Monta Ellis; Duncan will return & other NBA free agency news

Dallas Mavericks point guard Monta Ellis warms up in front of an advertisement paid for by The Indiana Economic Development Corp. before an NBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. The IEDC has signed a deal with the Pacers for sponsoring the basketball court inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Ellis has agreed to terms with the Pacers on a four-year deal worth $44 million and other NBA free agency news.

in Sports

Rangers’ Martin St. Louis announces retirement

In this March 4, 2015, file photo, New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis (26) shoots against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit. Rangers forward Martin St. Louis is retiring after 16 NHL seasons, seven All Star selections and one Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis made the announcement Thursday, July 2, 2015, roughly a month after helping the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to the Lightning in seven games. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The 40-year-old St. Louis was uncertain whether he would return for another season after the Rangers were eliminated, but it was clear that New York was not going to bring him back.

in Entertainment

Filmmakers bet on ‘Monopoly’ movie

monopoly

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — “Monopoly” is going Hollywood. Lionsgate says it will turn the classic board game into a…

in Sports

Wimbledon: Nadal stunned by Dustin Brown in 2nd round

Dustin Brown of Germany, gestures after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain, during their singles match, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Thursday July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Dustin Brown, a German of Jamaican heritage with a clever touch and a throwback serve-and-volley game, beat Nadal 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court on Thursday.

in Music

‘The Boss’ joins a Beach Boy onstage

14-overlay2

East met West as the Jersey Shore musician jammed with California legend Brian Wilson.

Bellingham Traffic