are cola companies coping with the pesticides issue?
10 August 2006
Centre for Science and Environment has reported pesticides
in soft drinks for the second time in three years and
states like Karnataka and Kerala have banned cola drinks
in educational institutions and government offices.
CNBC-TV18 looks at how soft drink makers are coping
with the controversy.
Kerala has even called for a ban on soft drink output.
The Centre for Science and Environment has opened an
old issue, with the same old allegations it made three
years ago. It says that Coke and Pepsi contain 24 times
more than the permissible amounts of pesticide in them.
This time the Indian Soft Drink Manufacturers Association,
ISDMA, is the mouthpiece for Coke and Pepsi and it responded
to the Kerala ban saying, "Our products manufactured
in India are absolutely safe and meet every safety standard
set by food, health and regulatory bodies in India and
all over the world."
Almost a week after the ban, Coke and Pepsi ran advertisements
to educate consumers on these issues. Coke has even
asked customers to contact them, while Pepsi claims
that soft drinks are safer than many essential food
items like eggs, rice and even apples.
Industry watchers expect the companies to use this as
the plank to their counter attack. In addition to assuring
their trade partners, both players are looking for third
party endorsements as well and doctors might be roped
in. And last time's experience has also taught them
that public and media memory is short, so it pays to
Consultant, MarketGate, Sharda Agarwal said, "The
first time they were caught off guard, this time I guess,
they were expecting it due to the third anniversary
of the controversy. I think, companies should instead
wait and watch and then take the issue head on."
Some experts also say that this time, people are fed
up with the pesticide controversy. They feel soft drink
makers have become soft
targets. Company officials can't believe their bad luck,
just as sales had begun to pick up, the pesticide issue
has raised its head. Coke and Pepsi hope they will be
able to put a lid on the issue as soon as they can.
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