Appropriate Response and Support to Consumers

Our Basic Philosophy

At the Asahi Group, we position the voices of our customers or outlets as one of our assets that elevate the quality of our management. Furthermore, we develop and improve our products and services while seeking to grasp each and every one of the issues through active dialogue with our customers. Through such efforts, we continuously improve our customer satisfaction while we utilize their voices in our management policies and the formulation of activity principles.

The very section that plays a central role in the dialogue with our customers is the Customer Service Office*. The Office's basic stance is to approach the customer who has made contact with a sense of gratitude, and we strive to respond in a timely, accurate, and courteous manner by standing in their shoes for every inquiry that has been sent.

* Customer Service Offices are available at key Asahi Group companies including Asahi Breweries, Asahi Soft Drinks and Asahi Group Foods.

Consumer Orientation Declaration

The Asahi Group has stated that the initiative policy of Asahi Group Holdings will be a “Statement of Consumer-oriented Business” made with the aim of realizing consumer-oriented management.

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Management System for Our Customers

System for Collecting Customer Feedback and Incorporating It into Our Business Activities

Customer Relations Offices at Asahi Group companies strive to consider each comment promptly, accurately and respectfully. All customer inquiries, including comments and opinions, requests and problems, are entered into an in-house database and utilized in developing products and services as well as in formulating policies for our management and activities.

System for Management to Monitor the Voices of our Customers

At Asahi Breweries, Ltd., the voices of our customers are regularly summarized in reports for management and incorporated into our business activities.

Flow of Response to Reported Problems
Flow of Response to Reported Problems

Efforts to Improve Customer Satisfaction

In order to improve customer satisfaction, the Asahi Group has implemented measures including direct evaluation through surveys as well as external diagnoses of customer service via telephone, and is utilizing the results to improve the level of its activities. While customer surveys and evaluation via external diagnoses indicate that customer service is improving, there are many issues that need to be addressed to offer better customer service, and we consider this to be an area that requires further effort.Survey findings and customer feedback are used for continuous improvement of products and services.

Comments from customers received at the Customer Relations Office (Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)
2015 2016 2017
Number of cases Ratio Number of cases Ratio Number of cases Ratio
Inquiries References 31,676 83.7% 29,015 83.9% 32,741 86.1%
Comments/opinions 866 2.3% 850 2.5% 802 2.1%
Contacts 781 2.1% 629 1.8% 533 1.4%
Requests 862 2.3% 725 2.1% 593 1.6%
Suggestions 126 0.3% 117 0.3% 72 0.2%
Problems 3,518 9.3% 3,229 9.3% 3,286 8.6%
Total 37,829 100% 34,565 100% 38,027 100%

Representative Product Improvements Reflecting Customer Comments (Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)

New easy-open design for 135 ml mini can targeted at older consumers

Following feedback on difficulties around opening the Asahi Super Dry 135 ml can, we have redesigned the lid based on the principles of “sensitivity engineering”. The new easy-open 135 ml can was recently awarded the World Star prize at the World Packaging Organisation (WPO) 2018 World Star Competition.

Addition of helpful markings on paper cartons for shochu, liquor and wine

Folding lines were added to the paper carton to make discarding used cartons easier, and the method of disposal was printed on the package.

Improvements in back labels for bottled beer to make them easier to understand

In response to comments that the letter, “H”—signifying breweries—printed on the back label of conventional beer bottles was easily mistaken to signify the year “Heisei,” we changed the location of the letter on the label.

Addition of markings showing manufacturing date and best before date on six-pack cartons of canned beer–type beverages

We were first in the industry to print the manufacturing date and best before date on the upper side of the packaging for six-pack cartons of canned beer to make it easier to see.

Improvements in label's text on casings for beer-type beverages to show whether the content can be removed individually or in six-pack

In response to customers commenting that from the external packaging it was difficult to ascertain whether cans were packed in units of six or individually, we added the expressions, “Cans may be taken out of the box individually” and “Six-pack × 4” on three sides (top, a long side, a short side).

Easy-to-understand disclosure of nutritional information of products via our website

We provide detailed nutritional information about beer-type beverages on the Asahi Breweries website in response to the growing number of customer inquiries on ingredient labeling.

Direct Evaluation Results of Survey of Customers Who Gave Advice regarding Products

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Out of 100 points (average score) 93.3 points 94.6 points 93.4 points 94.0 points 94.2 points
Investigation outline
  • Target: Customers who gave advice regarding Asahi Breweries, Ltd. products
  • Method: Postcards
  • Period: January 1 – December 31 of each year

Activities to Improve Customer Response Skills (Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)

The Customer Service Office is implementing various activities to improve the level of customer response offered.

Activities to Improve Customer Response Skills (Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)
Activity Target Activity aim/content Activity results
Internal facilities visits Customer Service Office response staff Improvement of customer response skills Site visits including the Nikka Whisky Hirosaki plant and Miyagikyo Distillery in Sendai (FY2017)
“Customer information topics” All employees at Asahi Breweries, Ltd. For customer viewpoint permeation, employee share characteristic customer opinions over the Intranet and exchange opinions Ongoing since starting in May 2005

Activities Designed for Dialogue with Customers

Consumer Dialogue (Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)

Since 2008, we have launched Consumer Dialogue with an aim to create a corporate culture that seeks to understand the consumers' viewpoint through direct dialogue with consumers and mutual understanding. Each year, themes related to dialogue with customers are established, individuals including consumer representatives and academics are invited to engage in exchange of opinions such as through workshops or panel discussions.

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Report on Voluntary Recalls

Report on Voluntary Recalls in 2017

Asahi Premium Beverages conducts voluntary recall of some alcoholic cider products in Australia to correct allergy labeling omissions

In January 2017 it was discovered that information about the potentially allergic substance sulphite had been omitted from product labels on The Cider Lab products sold by Asahi Premium Beverages (APB) in Australia. Sulphite has been linked to hypersensitivity and allergic symptoms and under Australian law must be specified on product labels if above the minimum concentration. Although no health impacts had been reported from consumers, APB took the step of applying for a voluntary recall in accordance with Food Standards Australia New Zealand regulations. The recall process included notifications in leading newspapers.

The recall was carried out in conjunction with Asahi Holdings Australia and Asahi Group Holdings.

Asahi Premium Beverages conducts voluntary recall of some RTD products in Australia to correct allergy labeling omissions

In November 2017 it was discovered that information about Colour 102, a potentially allergic substance, had been omitted from product labels on Vodka Cruiser Sunny Orange Passionfruit products sold by Asahi Premium Beverages (APB) in Australia. Colour 102 has been linked to hypersensitivity and allergic symptoms and under Australian law must be specified on product labels. Although no health impacts had been reported from consumers, APB took the step of applying for a voluntary recall in accordance with Food Standards Australia New Zealand regulations. The recall process included notifications in leading newspapers.

The recall was carried out in conjunction with Asahi Holdings Australia and Asahi Group Holdings.

Report on Voluntary Recalls in 2016

Asahi Group Foods conducts voluntary recall of some baby food products due to contamination with foreign substance

In August 2016, there was a report that “Eiyo Marche Tori to Osakana no Baby Lunch”(Rice Porridge with Chicken and Western Style Simmered Codfish % Vegetables) and “Eiyo Marche Wayasai no Baby Lunch” (Japanese Rice Porridge with Anchovy and Simmered Vegetables % Chicken) sold by Asahi Group Foods under the Wakodo brand, was contaminated with a piece of plastic. Various inspection results revealed that this was a fragment that had broken off equipment within the plant. The piece of plastic was not sharp, but taking into consideration the fact that the product is for infants, it was decided to conduct a voluntary recall for this product to ensure utmost safety. After reporting the issue to the authorities, we ran an announcement in newspapers and conducted a product recall. There were no reports of any health problems suffered as a result of eating the product.

(In response to this matter, Asahi Group Foods Co., Ltd. immediately held an emergency response meeting after it came to light, and is proceeding with Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. to investigate and respond to this matter.)

We are taking this matter very seriously and immediately established a companywide “Accidental Product Elimination Project.” We are working to enhance our system for preventing contamination by foreign objects.

Report on Voluntary Recalls in 2015

Wakodo Co., Ltd. conducts voluntary recall of some baby food products

In January 2015, there was a report that “Goo-Goo Kitchen Big Goro Goro Nikujaga” (dish of meat and potatoes for babies) sold by Wakodo Co., Ltd. was contaminated with an insect. Although based on various inspection results that it was unlikely that insect contamination occurred during the manufacturing process, the route of contamination was unable to be identified. However, taking into consideration the fact that the product is for infants, it was decided to conduct a voluntary recall for this product to ensure utmost safety. After reporting the issue to the authorities, we ran an announcement in newspapers and conducted a product recall. There were no reports of any health problems suffered as a result of eating the product.

(In response to this matter, Wakodo Co., Ltd. immediately held an emergency response meeting after it came to light, and is proceeding with Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. to investigate and respond to this matter.)

This matter brought up the possibility of foreign object contamination including anti-insect measures in manufacturing processes, and activities are being continued with the aim of eliminating all foreign body contamination. This matter has also been brought up at Group Quality Conferences with the aim of raising awareness within the Group.

Australia: Schweppes Australia Pty Ltd recalls some carbonated beverages due to mistaken use of label
  • In January 2015, it was found that a SODA water label was mistakenly being used in the carbonated beverage product “Tonic water (300 ml glass bottle)” sold by Schweppes Australia Pty Ltd (hereinafter: SAPL). (Tonic water requires labeling that states that it contains quinine.)
  • Although quinine is not an allergic substance, some people are sensitive to quinine and may suffer an adverse physical reaction upon drinking it. Therefore, products containing quinine must state this on the packaging.
  • As soon as the issue was discovered, SAPL immediately made an application to implement a voluntary recall in accordance with the rules of Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The recall was implemented and an announcement made in newspapers.

(After detection, Asahi Holdings Australia Pty. Ltd. and Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. began sharing information and discussing responses to this issue.)

New Zealand: Independent Liquor New Zealand recalls some bottled beer due to contamination with glass fragments
  • In April 2015, it was found that some lots of bottled craft beer “Founders 1981 Pale Ale” sold by Independent Liquor New Zealand (hereinafter: ILNZ) might be contaminated with glass fragments. This came to light after three reports were received from customers. Confirmation of in-house inventory revealed flaws in the bottle opening.
  • After the matter came to light, ILNZ immediately applied for a recall with an intention to conduct a voluntary recall in accordance with the rules of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. An announcement was run in newspapers and the recall was implemented.

(After detection, Asahi Holdings Australia Pty. Ltd. and Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. began sharing information and discussing responses to this issue.)

New Zealand: The Better Drinks Company recalls some soft drinks due to bottle opening breakage
  • In July 2015, it was found that the bottle opening might have broken and contaminated the product in certain lots of the bottled soft drink, “Phoenix,” sold by The Better Drinks Company (hereinafter: TBDc).
  • The results of inspections indicated that a problem in the manufacturing process of the bottle manufacturer might have damaged the bottles.
  • Although there were no reports from customers, an application for a recall was immediately made to the due to the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries due to the possibility of injury.

(After detection, Asahi Holdings Australia Pty. Ltd. and Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. began sharing information and discussing responses to this issue.)