[China] Seaweed producers in southeast China say they have lost hundreds of millions of yuan in two weeks after a video went viral on the internet alleging that some of their produce was made of plastic, according to Chinese media reports.
In the two-minute clip that was widely circulated on social media, a woman questioned whether the seaweed collected by one producer in Jinjiang in Fujian province was real.
“Is this real seaweed? It can’t be broken,” the woman said as she tore up a piece of seaweed.
Jinjiang is China’s biggest seaweed processing hub, selling 40,000 tonnes of the product each year. The city’s seaweed industry produces a revenue of about two billion yuan (US$291 million) annually, according to the Chengdu Business News.
But after the video went viral online a fortnight ago, the local aquatic products industry association said producers had lost as much as hundreds of millions of yuan in revenue over the remarks, the report said.
Some companies said that before the video was uploaded to the internet, they received calls from anonymous people blackmailing them for tens of thousands of yuan by threatening to release the footage.
Producers said they had received dozens of phone calls complaining about seaweed quality, leading to cancelled orders or the return of shipments.
Hotlines were set up to explain to customers concerned about seaweed quality that firms were the victims of rumourmongering, one company was quoted as saying.
Companies said the rumours were absurd as plastic was even more expensive than seaweed and there was no possible reason to switch the two.
If seaweed cannot be torn it needs to be boiled, the producers said.
Food safety authorities in areas including Beijing and Fujian and Guangdong provinces were quoted as saying they had found no such fake products.
Some Jinjiang seaweed producers and traders said they had reported the case to the police and two suspects had been identified.
View original article at: ‘Plastic’ seaweed? Chinese producers lose millions after rumours spread through viral video