Japanese packaged food maker, Warabeya Nichiyo Holdings Co., experienced a significant decline in its shares, falling 8.6 percent on Friday, marking the largest drop for the company in recent times. This comes as a consequence of a cockroach infestation incident that occurred ten months ago in its onigiri products, which the company had previously apologized for.
The repercussions of the incident extended beyond Warabeya Nichiyo Holdings Co., as Seven & i Holdings Co., the parent company of 7-Eleven convenience stores in Japan and a seller of Warabaya’s products, also issued an apology statement. Consequently, Seven & i Holdings Co. saw a 1.1% drop in its stock at the opening, aligning with the general market trend.
Warabeya’s shares experienced a steep decline of 4.5% as of 11:30 a.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The company swiftly responded to the situation by recalling relevant products produced at a factory in Omiya.
The trigger for this recent stock plunge was a video that surfaced on Friday, showing a cockroach found in a rice ball sold at a 7-Eleven store. The discovery of such a pest in a product understandably raised concerns among consumers and investors alike.
Warabaya is primarily known for producing lunch boxes, ready-to-eat rice balls, and pastries, with most of its products being sold at Seven-Eleven stores in Japan. While Japan is renowned for its cleanliness and stringent food safety standards, this incident is one of several cases of food contamination that have rattled the country in recent times.
Earlier this year, even Japan’s famous conveyor belt sushi restaurants faced a similar issue, dubbed “Sushi terrorism,” where customers engaged in unhygienic behaviors, such as licking common utensils, causing alarm and potential health risks.
In response to this recent incident, both Warabeya Nichiyo Holdings Co. and Seven & i Holdings Co. must take decisive actions to address the problem, restore consumer confidence, and ensure such incidents do not recur. Food safety and hygiene remain of paramount importance in Japan’s food industry, and companies must remain vigilant to safeguard their reputation and the well-being of their customers.