A retailer association in Tamil Nadu says it members will boycott the soft drink products of Pepsi and Coca-Cola from March 1. The stated reasoning is that their products are not good for health and these companies are using water resources in Tamil Nadu but the money they make is taken out of the country.
PepsiCo's global chief, Indra Nooyi, hails from Tamil Nadu.
The decision was announced by the Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu (Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders' Association). It claims 1.5 million retailers as members and around 6,000 traders associations.
“We have been thinking about it but were not sure what would be the response from customers. But, during the Jallikattu protest, youngsters were demanding such a step. So, we have decided not to sell the soft drinks of Pepsi and Coca-Cola from March 1”, said K Mohan, secretary.
The body says it is asking local brands to increase their production and supplies. These include Thoothukudi-based Kali Mark, which manufactures the Bovonto brand of products, Bengaluru-based Torino and Thanjavur-based RVN Drinks (777). Officials from one of these companies said they'd started receiving more enquiries from traders about supply.
E-mails sent to PepsiCo and Coca-Cola did not elicit a response till the time of going to press. Arvind Verma, secretary general, Indian Beverage Association, in which both companies are members, said they were "deeply disappointed to learn of the stance taken by a trade association in Tamil Nadu to not sell products manufactured by our members and two of the largest players in the food processing industry."
He said that there was absolutely no connection between its member companies and the ongoing events in the state. Both Coca-Cola India and PepsiCo India had made a significant contribution to the Indian economy and society over the past couple of decades, he said. These companies provide employment to around 350,000 people and play a role in improving the livelihoods of over half a million farmers and about four mn retailers in the country.
"The proposed call is not only against the interest of farmers, traders and retailers of the state. It also undermines the role industry can play in economic growth and development," said Verma.
Mohan estimated the two multinationals had 70-80% of the soft drinks market.