Chennai: Ban on MNC colas comes into effect

Chennai: The ban on Pepsi and Coca-Cola by the traders’ association comes into effect Wednesday, paving the way for resurgence of ‘swadeshi’ colas like Kalimark, Torino and Bovonto in Tamil Nadu.

Spurred by the success of the jallikattu campaign by a massive upsurge of youth energy, two major trade organisations – Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam and Tamil Nadu Traders Federation—had announced that their members numbering over 15 lakh traders across TN would stop selling Pepsi and Coke from March 1 because they “are exploiting the state’s water bodies to make their colas while the farmers faced severe drought”.

Industry sources said the ban could cost the two MNC cola majors over `1,400 crore in annual sales. The loss could be even higher if the traders’ ban stretches to other food products of PepsiCo, such as chips and oats, they said.

Federation president A.M. Vikrama Raja said during the jallikattu movement it was found that many youths were demanding ban on the MNC colas to protect the farmers’ interests and also to promote the sale of local brands.

Bovonto was already available across the state while Torino was confined to the southern parts. But when the demand goes up, these companies would step up production and distribution, he said. Interestingly, the cola ban found positive response from the youth-dominated social media with many users welcoming it.

While some said this would help TN to save precious water (now being consumed by the three PepsiCo plants in the state) for its farmers, some others said the ban would give life to the fading local brands. Some also pointed out that the aerated colas, which were bad for health, had replaced health drinks from the refrigerators at homes.

The Indian Beverages Association (IBA) has expressed concern, with its secretary general Arvind Verma saying the association was “deeply disappointed” by the ban, which he argued would hurt the interests of farmers, traders and retailers in TN, besides undermining the role industry could play in the economic growth and development.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola India had made major contributions to the Indian economy, providing employment to about 3.5 lakh people besides improving the livelihoods of over five lakh farmers and about 10 lakh retailers in the country.

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