Nestle Japan Ltd, a Japanese unit of food giant Nestle, is using surplus stocks of old instant coffee products to make new products, industry sources revealed at the weekend, reports Kyodo News.
Nestle Japan released a statement the same day, claiming that it is reusing the unsold stocks of two products, instant coffee and powdered creamer, and that they both meet its rigorous safety and quality standards.
The Kobe-based company, the largest domestic supplier of instant coffee products, also said it sees no legal problems with the practice because Japan's coffee industry body currently does not have any policies on it or the labelling of such products.
But the industry body said it will consider setting up a new provision on labelling such items that are used in new products if the case arouses public concern.
Chief executive officer of Nestle Japan, Shunichi Fujii, said he "has total confidence in the safety" of the practice and questioned whether it is right to simply dispose of all extra inventory from an environmental standpoint.
According to the company's statement, the practice of reusing surplus stock is based on the idea of fully utilising limited resources and reducing waste, adding that sometimes the process is even more expensive than destroying the extra stock.
Nestle Japan has been using such a process since the 1960s, reports the news agency, under which it dissolves instant coffee stocked at its factories and warehouses and mixes it with coffee bean extract. The company then evaporates the mixed liquid and puts new expiration dates on the labels of the new products, the sources said.
It used extra stocks collected from retailers until 2000, but now it only uses its own stocks due to safety concerns, they said. Last year it used 46 tons of stocks, or 0.16 per cent, of its annual production.