Groupe Danone has reacted in confusion to press reports suggesting it is unhappy with the targets made by its Chinese joint venture.

China Business News said earlier this week that the French company has written to its joint venture partner, Hangzhou Wahaha, calling for a board meeting to discuss low sales targets for the JV. The paper said that Hangzhou Wahaha's chairman, Zong Qinghou, had forecast sales growth of 3% for the venture in 2007. Danone was cited as being "disappointed" by Zong's estimates.

When contacted by just-drinks today (30 May), however, a spokesperson for Danone said: "We don't know where these figures [3% growth forecast] came from." The spokesperson highlighted Q1 sales growth of 8% for the venture as being "not far from where the trend should be".

The spokesperson declined to comment further on the reports.

Earlier this month, Danone instructed Zong Qinghou, in his capacity as the chairman of the joint venture, to start legal action against Hangzhou Wahaha. The company, also headed by Zong, stands accused by Danone of illegally selling its products, "which are the same as the joint venture's products under Wahaha trademark, without proper authorisation".