, TOKYO, October 24 – Japanese baby milk maker Meiji said Thursday it was suspending sales in China because of rising costs and increased competition.
Meiji, the producer of the Hohoemi and Step milk powder brands, has suffered a slump in sales in the country, a spokesman said.
Beijing imposed a ban on milk imports from Japan in 2010, when foot and mouth disease broke out in southwestern Miyazaki, but the company continued selling milk powder made in Australia, he said.
“Due to the rising costs of raw materials and increasingly fierce competition, the company has found it difficult to make a stable profit in the market,” the spokesman said.
“The company will consider resuming its milk powder business there when the market environment improves.”
Japanese brand baby formula became increasingly popular in China in the wake of a 2008 scandal when local manufacturers were found to be bulking their product with an industrial chemical.
Six babies died and around 300,000 others were made ill, precipitating a consumer charge into foreign made formula despite its usually higher cost.
However, the 2011 tsunami-triggered nuclear accident at Fukushima dented Japan’s reputation for food safety with consumers worldwide fearing radioactive contamination of its exports.
Meiji’s largest foreign milk powder market is now Pakistan, while it also sells in Taiwan and Vietnam, the company spokesman said.