China’s two biggest dairy companies fight over 2022 Winter Olympics sponsorship

Chinese dairy products company Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group has threatened to pull out of sponsoring the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing due to a dispute with rival firm China Mengniu Dairy.

In a post on its official WeChat account on Thursday, that was later deleted, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group said China Mengniu Dairy had infringed on its status as Official Partner of Beijing 2022 in the dairy products category.

Mengniu does not have an official sponsorship with either the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee or the International Olympic Committee. But Yili claimed Mengniu has leveraged a relationship with Coca-Cola to gain a link to the Olympics.

Coca-Cola is the International Olympic Committee’s official non-alcoholic beverages partner at Worldwide Olympic Partner level. Yili claimed Mengniu had paid Coca-Cola’s sponsorship fee to the IOC.

Yili claimed Mengniu’s moves could potentially confuse Chinese consumers about which company is the official dairy products sponsor of the Olympics. Yili threatened to terminate its sponsorship and cut all ties with the Olympics after 2024.

Yili and Mengniu each have around 20 per cent of China’s $62bn dairy products market, according to Euromonitor International Data.