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Traders take soft drinks off the shelf in Kerala

Our Bureau

Only hardcore fans of these soft drinks are still buying them. As a result of the drop in sales, many small traders are facing a financial crunch as their funds are tied up in the deposits they have paid to these companies.

Thiruvananthapuram , Aug. 18

THE Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti, an organisation of small traders and shopkeepers in Kerala, has announced that its members will stop selling soft drinks manufactured by Pepsi and Coca-Cola with immediate effect.

Mr P.K Girish, the organisation's State General Secretary, made this announcement at a press conference in the city today. The organisation has taken this decision following recent reports that the products manufactured by these companies contained "poisonous" substances, he said. The organisation has no quarrel with the two companies and the decision to boycott their products is based on concerns of public health, he added.

The organisation, which claims to have a State-wide membership base of over 1.3 lakh, has also demanded that the two companies refund the deposits collected from its members. Besides, the organisation has also asked the two companies to take back unsold stocks from its members.

The organisation has given the two companies 10 days' time to meet its demands, said Mr Girish. If the companies fail to accede to these demands in the stipulated period, the organisation will look at other options, including legal action or an agitation against the two companies, he declared. "Ordinary shopkeepers in Kerala are with us on this issue," he added.

Simultaneously, the traders' organisation has also decided to promote traditional thirst quenchers such as tender coconut water as an alternative to colas, said Mr Girish. However, given the sorry state of agriculture in the State, the Government should take special measures to encourage the cultivation and harvesting of tender coconuts in the State, he added.

When asked whether the organisation would instruct its members to start selling the soft drinks if the Government gave these products a clean chit, Mr Girish replied: "We will sell these soft drinks only when we are convinced that the products do not contain any harmful material." The sale of products from the two soft drink companies has dropped sharply over the last few weeks, said Mr Girish. "Stocks are not moving at all." Only hardcore fans of these soft drinks are still buying them, he claimed.

As a result of the drop in sales, many small traders are facing a financial crunch as their funds are tied up in the deposits they have paid to these companies, he said.

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