Suntry will sell more of its mineral waters brand and consolidate its stake in the luxury brand, the company said on Tuesday, in a move aimed at taking the focus away from the brand’s controversial “bounty” system.
The announcement comes amid a global backlash over the “barker” program, which rewards people for posting negative comments about the brand.
Suntury was one of the largest producers of the mineral water products that have drawn criticism for their alleged links to the “carnivore” label, and has since faced scrutiny over the issue.
Sometime this year, the brand will begin selling mineral water in Japan and South Korea.
Sotsu, which sells mineral water to consumers in the United States, Europe and other countries, said it will sell a 50 percent stake in Suntary in the first half of 2019, but will not disclose the exact number.
The company said it was “committed to our mission to create a sustainable future for all people,” and would continue to work on a new strategy to improve the brand and strengthen Sunturies global footprint.
The move comes after Suntery faced criticism from human rights groups and other environmental groups for using “barks” to reward comments and rewards.
The program has drawn criticism, with some claiming it encourages cruelty.
In November, Suntiry apologized for the program, saying it had created a positive, inclusive environment for its employees.