There have been reports from media outlets that both restaurants and customers in South Korea have stopped liking Tsingtao beer. This comes after a video went viral showing a worker from the company’s plant in China urinating into a tank.
The video, which has gained millions of views on social media since it was posted last Thursday, captures a man in a helmet and blue uniform climbing over the edge of a tall container and seemingly urinating on its contents.
Tsingtao Brewery, the second-largest brewery in China and a significant exporter, has reached out to authorities after becoming aware of the video. In a statement, the company emphasized the significance of the footage captured at Tsingtao Brewery No. 3 on October 19th.
The statement stated that the batch of malt in question is currently sealed and the company is taking steps to improve management procedures and maintain product quality.
Authorities in Pingdu, a municipality in the Shandong region where the factory is situated, stated that they have initiated an inquiry into the occurrence. According to reports from Chinese news outlets, a representative from Tsingtao claimed that the individual who filmed the incident and the worker involved were not employed by the brewery itself.
However, there seems to be a significant negative reaction from the public.
The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Daily stated that several restaurants, primarily Chinese cuisine, had requested refunds for Tsingtao shipments. However, the beer’s importer in South Korea declined the requests.
An employee at a Chinese restaurant in Seoul was quoted by the newspaper as saying that they inquired about a potential refund for the Tsingtao beer they had already purchased, but the importer’s representative informed them it was not an option.
According to the newspaper, the employee reported that customers were now asking for different types of beer instead of just Tsingtao.
Chinese netizens quickly came to the brewery’s defense.
One person on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo suggested that the company should take legal action against this man and have him pay for the damages. Another commenter called for a thorough investigation and urged for support of national champion brands.
Some others attempted to downplay the situation. “I’ve always joked that the beer here tastes like horse urine. Turns out, I was mistaken,” one person commented.
Tsingtao may face difficulties if there is a continued decline in sales in South Korea. Currently, it holds the largest market share among imported beers in the country for the first half of the year. Based on Statistics Korea, China is the second highest beer importer to South Korea, following Japan.
According to the JoongAng Daily, not all restaurants were disturbed by the video. They cited the owner of a different restaurant in Seoul who reported that the sales of the beer were not impacted over the weekend.
According to the newspaper, the sales of beer at convenience stores have significantly decreased. Reports from South Korean media stated that one chain’s Tsingtao sales dropped by 26.2% from the previous week.
According to South Korean media, other convenience store owners have reported notable declines in sales. However, sales of other imported beers such as Budweiser and Stella Artois have increased by over 33% compared to the previous week.
BK, the company responsible for importing Tsingtao beer to South Korea, attempted to reassure consumers that they would not be consuming contaminated beer. They stated that Tsingtao has different production facilities for its domestic and international markets and clarified that the factory featured in the video only produces beer for the Chinese market.