Mainland supermarkets and retailers have removed all Vitasoy products off their shelves after an employee of the Hong Kong beverage maker circulated a memo online offering condolences to the family of a worker who had stabbed a police officer.
Despite clarification that the memo was circulated by an “extremely inappropriate” staff member without authorization and the company reserved the right to take legal action, mainland netizens continue calls for a boycott of the brand.
Netizens from multiple mainland cities including Shenzhen, Luoyang and Mianyang reported seeing stores having taken down or are taking down Vitasoy products. A staffer from a Trust-Mart branch in Mianyang city, Sichuan province posted an internal notice on Weibo saying: “Hong Kong brand Vitasoy expressed condolences to the police stabber. Please take Vitasoy products off the shelves upon seeing this notice and contact suppliers for refunds.”
More supermarket and retailer employees in Jiangsu and Hubei provinces have told mainland media their superiors have given similar instructions, citing reasons that Vitasoy’s apology was insincere.
In a statement on social media platform Weibo on Saturday, Vitasoy said a staff member had circulated a memo that it described as “extremely inappropriate” without authorisation, and the company reserved the right to take legal action.
The memo offered condolences to the family of a 50-year-old Vitasoy worker who had stabbed a police officer, 28, and then killed himself on July 1.
“What this employee wrote should not have been made public and should not have been published internally,” Vitasoy said. “Vitasoy Group sincerely apologises for any troubles or grievances this has caused. We support Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity, stability and development.”
Police have described the stabbing as an attempted murder. The officer’s condition has improved from critical to serious.
The worker’s memo triggered a flood of online calls for a boycott of Vitasoy, which gets two-thirds of its revenue from the mainland.
The hashtag “#Vitasoygetoutofthemainland” has garnered almost 100 million views.