• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

CPC hammer on Coke creates panic in companies

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The recent indictment of Coca Cola by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) of Nigeria over product imperfection has created panic in companies who fear violating the Council’s Act, if the Council’s searchlight focuses on them.

The industry apprehension is predicated on the determination of the Council to ensure that products in the market conform with the same international standards anywhere in the world.

The fear also stems from the fact that if Coca Cola Company, which is the world largest soft drink bottler with revenue of about $12.03 billion in 2013, will be found guilty of violating the CPC Act, then there could be many more companies with similar offence, an analyst told BusinessDay.

The source confirms that the Council has also served what he called ‘orders’ on another big beverage company for a penalty amounting to N100 million. He thinks the company may head to court to challenge the complaint against it.

In the case of Coca Cola, the Council says it has substantiated the allegation of product defect and violation of the CPC Act against company and its bottler firm.

Dupe Atoki, director-general of CPC, says the investigation is premised on two half-filled cans of Sprite, which led to a plethora of findings, among which are that the cans of Spirits were defective and had health and safety implications for consumers, meaning NBC does not have a detailed written shelf life policy for dealing with expired products

The Council made far reaching recommendations for system change in NBC and Coca Cola Nigeria, as the director-general says the Council has issued an order, which gives clear directions for standard compliance in all areas that the companies have been found wanting.

Among the orders is mandate to both companies to subject their manufacturing processes to the Council’s inspection for a period of 12 months to ensure compliance with safety standards and regulations, formulate and make available to the Council a shelf life policy within 90 days to facilitate the removal of expired products from the market.

The companies are also required to compensate the consumer whose complaint necessitated the investigation and pay civil penalties to act as deterrent. Efforts to get the details of the compensation and the civil penalties to be paid by Coke proved abortive.

In their reaction, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC) and Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited (CCNL) confirmed that the CPC recently carried out a product complaint investigation involving both companies in respect of two short-filled cans of Sprite.

A statement jointly signed by Adeyanju Olomola, head, public affairs and communications, NBC, and Clem Ugorji, public affairs and communications Mmnager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, notes each organisation cooperated with the Council in the course of the investigation and provided the information available to it in varying respects, including but not limited to quality assurance, product handling and consumer complaints resolution processes that have been updated over the years, but “it is regrettable that the Council’s conclusions and recommendations do not appear to have acknowledged the information.

“As responsible organisations, NBC and CCNL take all matters relating to products very seriously and remain committed to maintaining the highest international quality management and food safety standards and certifications. Because consumers are at the heart of everything we do, both organisations also take a responsive approach towards satisfying customers and consumers.”