HOHHOT -- Two major Chinese dairy producers said on Thursday sales have recovered to 80 percent of the normal level before the tainted milk scandal.
The companies of Yili and Mengniu, both based in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and each realized more than 20 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) in sales revenue last year, made the remarks here on Thursday during a group interview by domestic and foreign journalists.
"We felt heart-broken over the milk crisis and drew a bitter lesson from it," Yili's executive president Zhang Jianqiu said, adding the companies had taken measures to ensure its products free of melamine, an industrial chemical added to sub-standard or diluted milk to make the protein levels appear higher.
Yang Wenjun, president of Mengniu, said the company's sales drastically dropped by 96 percent in the first couple of days after the tainted milk scandal broke out in mid September.
In a bid to ensure quality, Mengniu installed Global Position System (GPS) on every milk truck and monitored the milk collection centers around the clock after the scandal broke out.
When asked by a Hong Kong journalist that why advanced production lines and testing equipment in the Yili company had not prevented the contamination, Zhang said "the milk was tainted in collecting centers and we have inescapable responsibilities."
On Wednesday, a vice chairman of the Inner Mongolia regional government said it was very hard for the two companies to realize a combined sales target of 60 billion yuan this year, due to the crisis.
Inner Mongolia is China's largest dairy base with 2.5 million dairy cattle. About 800,000 families in the region raise the animals.
The Ministry of Health said Wednesday 5,824 infants were still receiving treatment in hospital nationwide for kidney diseases caused by tainted powdered milk, and six of them are in serious conditions.