If you’ve got the munchies in China right now, don’t reach for that donkey meat, son.
Wal-Mart stores in China are recalling ‘Five Spice’ donkey meat from their stores after tests found another animal’s DNA in the food. The Shandong Food and Administration will conduct an investigation into Wal-Mart’s Chinese supplier following the discovery that fox meat has been included in ‘Five Spice’ donkey meat product. On Weibo (China’s Twitter-like social media platform), Wal-Mart said that it will cooperate with authorities to get to the bottom of this slip-up.
China is the largest grocery market in the world, valued at over $1 trillion dollars and expected to open another 110 stores in the next few years. Set to balloon to $1.5 trillion by 2016 according to the Institute of Grocery Distribution, that growth is now threatened by this development.
“This is another hit on Wal-Mart’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 Group. CMR estimates that over the last three years, Wal-Mart’s market share has fallen from 7.5 percent to 5.2 percent. This probably won’t help that market share expand, and it’s not the first time that Chinese food suppliers have come under criticism. In 2011, Wal-Mart was fined for selling duck meat after its expiration date in China.
According to China’s livestock industry yearbook, 2.4 million donkeys were slaughtered in 2011 for their meat. Donkey meat is a popular snack in some parts of China, but it accounts for a small fraction of the country’s meat consumption. — Max Weinstein