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Perrier mineral water

Professional Ethic case study

By: afnan hayat

Perrier mineral water in u.s

Perrier mineral water is a French brand of bottled mineral water
The famous green bottle became popular throughout Europe and was the first sparkling natural mineral bottled water in the U.S. Perrier became a part of an active, healthy American lifestyle in the late 1970s Perrier group identify their product as a low mineral ( particularly sodium) content. And it was known as a cooler, pure water

growing profit in the market

Perrier soon become the biggest bottled water company in the U.S
in 1989 U.S sales had risen from $40 million to $800 million at retail, which was a significant 25% of the company worldwide sale In 1991 the company strongly grew 12.4% ($56.2 million from $50 million) in 1990

In 1992 the Perrier group were the biggest bottled water company with 23.5% of U.S market share and sale of 635.3 million

The incident
on January 1990 last year laboratory workers at the Mecklenburg County Environmental Protection Department in Charlotte, North Carolina, went to their local supermarket to buy two or three bottles of Perrier, a leading brand of sparkling mineral water.
The scientists needed purified water to dilute substances they were testing for hazardous chemicals; buying Perrier was simpler than making their own

Finding of benzen
on January 19th James Ward, the laboratory's director spotted an unusual reading on his mass spectrometer: something was corrupting his sample
As Perrier had been an unfailingly reliable source, he was sure his equipment was to blame. But after spending two days checking everything. the scientists went shopping for Perrier again. Another eight bottles were tested. Each one contained minute quantities of benzene, an industrial solvent-and a carcinogen

The FDA report

Official in North County alerted food and drug administration officials about the higher then normal amount of benzene in Perrier mineral water
The test by FDA official in North Carolina and Georgia confirmed what the county official had found

The level of benzene

the set FDA maximum contamination level of benzene was five part per billion benzene in drinking water
The bottled water tested contained contamination amount between 12.3 and 19.9 part per billion

Effect of benzene on human health

acute exposure mainly affects the central nervous system. Acute exposure may result in excessive hemorrhage and, in extreme cases, death.
Evidence also points to the fact that high benzene concentrations can cause leukemia

Although the contamination was not high enough to cause immediate danger, they were high enough to warrant a recall of the Perrier water bottles.
Perrier recalled an estimated 72 million bottles of the mineral water from stores and restaurants across the nation the same day of FDA report on February 9,1990. Within a week source Perrier withdrew every bottle of its sparking mineral water worldwide after track benzene were reported in bottle tested in Denmark and the Netherland

The question of purity

Perrier bottling company gave several versions of the reason why their water had high levels of benzene than previously bottled ones.
Initially, they claimed that French authorities had passed the water as healthy when being exported.

The company then blamed the contamination on an employee who had mistakenly used benzene to degrease equipment
Later, they claimed a worker had not replaced a water filter.

Whether one or all of these reasons were true, they reflect a dangerous trend that Perrier allowed to go on in search for profits

At that time in the early nineties, Perrier was the leading company in the bottled water industry. They had taken advantage of the growth of the industry to become one of the leading sectors in the beverage consumption industry.
The industry grew by about ten per cent annually between 1977 and 1990 and brought new, often multinational players. The level of competition brought by these players, and the support they brought from their mother companies meant competition for market share was stiff They also faced competition from new age drinks like club soda, which threatened their hold in the market

These factors coupled with the mild recession at the turn of the decade into the nineties may have led to concentration on profits and loss of interest on safety of public health

The re-launch and result

In the march 1990 the Perrier American spend $25 million for the re-launch campaign advertising
The mishandling of the early days of the incident cost the ageing Mr Leven, Source Perrier's chairman and founder, his job. In June 1990 he was replaced by Jacques Vincent, the company's vice-chairman And cost the company their market share

. In America, Perrier's biggest overseas market, a 13% pre-crisis share of the take-home market for sparkling waters has been cut to 9%.

Lesson to learn
It is always useful to concentrate on the quality of the goods one produces because reputation sells just as much as any other marketing strategy. A good reputation sells but a bad reputation results in more losses than imaginable. Perrier ended up recalling almost 160 million bottles worldwide within a week.
When faced with a problem, the company should always come clean to the public on what exactly transpired. This boosts both investor and consumer confidence. The sincerity may mend broken bridges.

Why it was damaging

The Perrier benzene crisis was especially damaging because the whole concept of bottled water centers on purity.
Managing news in a crisis should not be about hiding the truth. It should instead be about mending consumer confidence especially in afield such as this where chemicals like benzene in water can cause adverse health effects

Works Cited

James, George. Perrier Recalls Its Water in U.S. After Benzene Is Found in Bottles. 1990. Web. October 18, 2013. <>.
Nestle Waters North America Inc. Perrier bottled water quality report. 2012. Web. October 18, 2013. Slooff, W.. Integrated criteria document benzene. Bilthoven: RIVM, 1988. Print. World Health Organization. Benzene in Drinking-water. 2003. Web. October 18, 2013.