Tamil Nadu traders begin colas’ boycott

Chennai, March 1 (IANS) Spurning the attractive incentives offered by multi-national cola companies, nearly 70 per cent of members of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangangalin Peramaippu (TNVSP) have stopped selling Coca Cola and Pepsi brands, a top leader of the trader’s organisation said.

The TNVSP, an umbrella organisation of around 6,000 traders’ associations with membership of around 15 lakh across the state, in January called upon its members to boycott the two foreign cola brands and urged them to promote fresh juice and drinks made by Indian companies.

“The shopkeepers are being offered three or five crates free for every 10 crates of foreign colas bought. Nevertheless, nearly 70 per cent of our members have not ordered fresh stocks and whatever is being sold are old stocks,” its President A. M. Vikrama Raja told IANS.

“We are selling old stocks as the companies are not taking back the bottles,” a shopkeeper told IANS.

According to Raja, a meeting of domestic cold drink makers has been called to increase their supplies.

“We have also called a meeting of restaurant and hotel owners to discuss the cola boycott issue,” he added.

The traders said they were partly spurred by the mass mobilisation that helped youths in Tamil Nadu to force the authorities to bow to them over Jallikattu, the traditional bull-taming sport that was banned under directions from the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Indian Beverage Association (IBA), an industry lobby, has expressed disappointment over the call to boycott products manufactured by Coca Cola and PepsiCo India.

“The boycott call also violates the rights of consumers to exercise choice,” the IBA said.

However a trader told IANS that they “also have freedom to stock the kind of products we want to sell”.