Why some Taiwanese Locals are Buying Milk and Refunding Them in Costco

If you’ve been paying close attention to Taiwanese news, or been to Costco lately, you’ll notice that there’s a number of people just buying milk and then returning it immediately.

Costco, who has a full refund policy, must issue the refund without question. You’d hope that they would recycle the returned cartons of milk so that it doesn’t go to waste, but in reality, Costco has to dump out all the milk so to prevent it to being in stock again.

So why are they doing buying and refunding milk right away?

If you were in Taiwan in 2014, you will remember the oil crisis that happened in September. To summarize, adulteration of cooking oil with recycled waste oil and animal feed oil was discovered. After investigation, it turned out Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團) was behind the scandal. Taiwanese people were furious and started boycotting the company. Many products were classic items Taiwanese people have been consuming for over half a century.

The oil scandal was on trial for most of 2015. Until recently, Changhua District declared Ting Hsin International Group and its founder Ying-Chong Wei (魏應充) not guilty of the 2014 Oil Scandal. This sentence sparked an outrage  and disbelief within Taiwan.

Ting Hsin International Group Founder - YingCong Wei 魏應充
Ting Hsin International Group Founder – YingChong Wei 魏應充

One of Ting Hsin International Group’s subsidiaries, WeiChuan Foods Corporation (味全食品) produces the particular brand of milk (林鳳營鮮乳) these people are boycotting. Ting Hsin International Group owns 40% of WeiChuan Foods Corporation.

Taiwanese girl dumps 林鳳營鮮乳 all over herself as part of the boycott movement
Taiwanese girl dumps 林鳳營鮮乳 all over herself as part of the boycott movement

WeiChuan Foods Corporation and its long-time workers are devastated by this movement. Since Wei Chuan was not actively involved in the oil scandal, its workers feel very helpless and innocent to the boycott. Wei Chuan CEO made a statement clarifying that Wei Chuan was not involved in any illegal and immoral activities relating to the 2014 Oil Scandal and urges consumers to act rationally and responsibly.

Not all Taiwanese people support this boycott movement and have criticize it as immature and wasteful. Some even confronted the boycott in the middle of Costco:

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