Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japanese beverage makers are ramping up production of mineral water amid increasing demand from quake-devastated areas and escalating fears about radioactive contamination from the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and have asked foreign mineral-water producers to increase shipments to Japan.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said radioactive iodine levels in Tokyo's tap water fell to within the government's threshold for consumption by infants Thursday after rising above the permissible level earlier in the week, but there are lingering concerns among many Japanese about the safety of the water.

Coca-Cola (Japan) Co. has been operating all of its seven mineral-water plants in Japan at full capacity since the March 11 earthquake, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

There has been some disruption of output at one of its plants north of Tokyo, due to Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s decision to implement power outages in its service regions, in order to prevent more widespread power outages. However, "we are trying to respond to increasing demand as much as possible," she said.

Suntory Holdings Ltd.'s four domestic mineral-water plants are also running at a full capacity. Suntory also bottles and distributes PepsiCo Inc. products in Japan.

Kirin Holdings Co. said its mineral-water business, which imports Volvic-branded water from France's Groupe Danone SA, has already asked Danone to send more shipments to Japan. But a Kirin spokesman said it will take about three months for extra supplies to be shipped via sea freight, underscoring the difficulty of meeting the short-term surge in demand.

Otsuka Holdings Co.'s beverage unit, which sells Crystal Geyser mineral-water product lines from the U.S. in Japan, has asked its U.S. counterpart to increase output to meet increasing orders from retailers and other business clients.

Domestic sales of mineral water, including domestic output and imports, amounted to 2.518 million kiloliters in 2010, up 0.4%, according to the Mineral Water Association of Japan. Imported mineral water accounted for about 17% of the total.

A Tokyo city official said a sample collected earlier Thursday at the Kanamachi purifying plant in north of Tokyo contained an iodine-131 reading of 79 becquerels a kilogram, less than the 100 becquerel-a-kilogram permissible limit for infants.

Tuesday, a sample at the Kanamachi waterworks contained an iodine reading of 210 becquerels a kilogram. Another sampling Wednesday, also from Kanamachi, showed an iodine reading of 190 becquerels a kilogram.

In line with the elevating levels of the radioactive material, the Tokyo government said Wednesday that tap water shouldn't be consumed by infants in Tokyo's 23 wards and several Tokyo cities.


Post a Comment