Volume 7, 2010
Jenny Mead, Regina Wentzel Wolfe, Akira Saito, Daryl Koehn
Snow Brand Milk Products (A)
Assessing the Possibility for Revitalization
This three-case series examines the dilemma that faced the Japanese company Snow Brand Milk Products (SBM) as it confronted the task of rebuilding and revitalization after a series of scandals, many self-induced, had threatened the company’s future. The A case begins in spring 2002 when leading consumer activist Nobuko Hiwasa was invited to join Snow Brand’s board of directors. The CEO wanted her to assist in SBM’s revitalization efforts, which were being
implemented in the wake of two recent scandals—contaminated milk and beef mislabeling—that had almost brought down the venerable company. Hiwasa was ambivalent about taking on this Herculean task. Was the company sincere in wanting to reform and revitalize? Would the board take her seriously? Was her presence to be mere publicity-driven window dressing? How would fellow consumer advocates view her if she accepted the position? This case details the history of Snow Brand Milk Products and the missteps and scandals that plagued it in the 1990s and early part of the decade that followed, and includes Hiwasa’s decision-making process as she considers whether to join the board of a company that has been badly tainted by scandal.