On 9 August, news outlets in China reported an issue with Nasdaq listed Chinese infant milk formula brand Synutra. The reports pointed to parents blaming Synutra for their daughters' abnormal sexual development. The news reported that extremely high level of hormone estradiol was found in the girls after consuming Synutra product. Total new mentions of the crisis on social media and news channels peaked at 257 on 10 August with the announcement of a fourth affected infant.
Compared to the buzz around the catastrophic Sanlu melamine crisis of 2008, which saw tens of thousands affected infants including deaths, the Synutra issue's buzz volume was minimal and short in length. This is perhaps due to the much smaller impact coupled with a lack of released evidence in putting the company at fault.
Analysis of the buzz content saw that much talk around the crisis was comparing international brands to local brands. Such discussions reflect the research done by CIC’s IMF research team who has seen an overall increase in discussions on international brands since the Sanlu crisis. In fact, 'country of origin' (domestic or imported) and 'trust' are the most discussed themes covered in the research.
From the buzz analysis, it appears that while this particular issue was not a huge problem, it is yet another chink in the armor for local brands trying to rebuild their credibility in the wake of the Sanlu crisis.