A Starbucks mug with an inner pink cup inside that is shaped like a cat's paw. (LONG WEI/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Beijing's food and drug regulator has launched an investigation into packages of fake instant Starbucks coffee after counterfeits were found in the capital.
According to Beijing News on Tuesday, supermarkets in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and Beijing were found to be selling fakes. Supermarket chains Carrefour in Beijing and Greenland Direct Global Goods and Hualian Supermarket in Nanjing were named.
Beijing's market regulation bureau, which is responsible for food and drug oversight, has received complaints and launched an investigation.
The counterfeit coffee was labeled as coming from "Guangzhou Baiyi Food Trading Company", which is not an authorized Starbucks dealer.
All the fake coffee has been taken off the shelves, according to Carrefour.
"Instant Starbucks coffee can only be bought at Starbucks coffee shops and its official online shop at Tmall," a staff member at the Starbuck's shop at Beijing's Solana Center told China Daily on Tuesday. "Customers can also tell real or fake items by the package. Our package is four bags per package, priced at an average 40 yuan ($5.95)."
The counterfeit coffee was priced at 32 yuan for a package containing five bags. Genuine Starbucks coffee is labeled as having eight months of shelf life, while the counterfeit is labeled as having 18 months.
In January, police from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, arrested 10 people suspected of producing counterfeit Starbucks instant coffee at a residential building in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and Xiamen, Fujian province, Chinese media reported.
In addition to the powdered coffee, Starbucks' limited-edition mugs were also being counterfeited.
On Thursday, police in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, raided four factories that were counterfeiting thousands of Starbucks' popular cat's paw mugs.
Responding to reports a day earlier, local police raided factories in Jianhu county and found 1,267 mugs with the label of the coffee giant, 4,044 mugs without the label, 53 labels and 3,177 packing boxes at the four sites.
The limited edition of the pink cat's paw mug, priced at 199 yuan, is popular with Chinese customers. An inner pink cup inside the double-glass one is shaped like a cat's paw and shows its shape when liquid is poured in. It was sold out both at stores and online since it was launched at Starbucks stores in February.
Local police said the mugs seized at the sites were a very close match to the authentic ones from Starbucks.