URC rebuilding beverage brands in Vietnam
GOKONGWEI-led Universal Robina Corp. (URC) is recalibrating its warehouse facilities in Vietnam and rebuilding its beverage brands that were recently recalled from the market for “moderately” exceeding the lead content prescribed by the government.
URC has completed the retrieval of the two batches of products manufactured in URC Hanoi that were the subject of the recall order and paid the fine imposed by the Ministry of Health amounting to $261,000, URC told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Friday.
The products which were recalled were ready-to-drink C2 (350 ml, lemon flavor) and Rong Do energy drink that were made on a specific day in November last year and another day in February this year.
URC chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei said URC had continued to sell these products in Vietnam but those belonging to the batches questioned—equivalent to about a million bottles—had been recalled. The group was able to retrieve a few thousand cases.
In the same disclosure, the group reiterated that the issue on two of its beverage products was strictly confined to Vietnam.
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that none of URC’s products in the Philippines is involved or affected. Although the FDA has cleared its products in the Philippines, URC continues to communicate and coordinate with the FDA to provide them with information they may need to exercise their functions,” it said in the disclosure.
After completing the recall of the two batches of products, Gokongwei said URC was working closely with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health to address the issue.
“We feel that this problem will be resolved soon enough,” Gokongwei said. “Since we have a very cooperative and transparent relationship with the Ministry of Health, we think that at the nearest possible time, we will be able to focus on rebuilding the brands.”
Lead is a naturally occurring substance prevalent in water but certain quantities are allowed depending on regulations per country. Following a regular course of inspection, URC was penalized after those two batches exceeded the Vietnamese government’s lead content benchmark.
“That (URC) lead content, in Japan, would pass,” Gokongwei said. “Different countries have different standards.”
Gokongwei said the lead content of these two URC products for those two specific batches were “moderately above” Vietnam’s threshold, which he noted was more stringent than Japan’s. “Still, it’s our responsibility to comply,” he said.
It was URC’s first time to encounter such an issue in Vietnam, which has become a big overseas market for C2.
“Of course, there’s an effect but it’s too early to evaluate the long-term effect,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Gokongwei said the Vietnamese government had completed its audit of URC Hanoi’s facilities while audit would be undertaken in other facilities.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.