The Ministry of Economy officials discovered several cases of violation regarding the stipulation that the price be printed on cans of top-selling soft-drinks, a top official said. Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/ Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Pepsico and Coca-Cola will withdraw from the market their 300ml soft-drink cans deemed violating an agreement with the Ministry of Economy’s Consumer Protection Department, an official said Monday.

The ministry took up the matter with the companies after inspectors discovered that franchisees were selling drinks in 300ml cans priced at Dh1.5 in violation of an agreement last year.

The companies agreed to the ministry last year that they would increase the size of the cans while raising the price to Dh1.5 from Dh1. The ministry had ordered the companies to also print the price on the cans.

However, the inspectors discovered that the 300ml cans were being distributed without the price printed on them, allowing sales at Dh1.5.

The two companies admitted the violation and agreed to withdraw the cans found violating the agreement from the market, the head of Consumer Protection Department said.

Unacceptable’

“We started the inspection campaign more than two weeks ago to solve the issue of the Pepsi, Coca-Cola’s cans being sold at outlets without price tags and in reduced sizes after receiving complaints from consumers,” Hashem Nuaimi told Gulf News.

“The Ministry of Economy, in cooperation with the competent authorities in different emirates, was considering taking canned colas off the shelves of different retail outlets if the two companies failed to make their own distributors withdraw the products,” Al Nuaimi said.

The ministry had previously said: “Pepsi and Coca-Cola violated rules when they reduced the size of the Dh1.5 can from 355ml to 300ml and removed the price tag.”

“The two companies requested that they would market their 355ml cans with a price printed on them. We were surprised by their move when they reduced the size and took the price tag off the cans,” Al Nuaimi said.

“What Pepsi and Coca-Cola did was unacceptable fraud and cheating because the two companies illegally reduced the size and maintained its price. In other words, they simply increased its price in violation of the consumer protection laws,” Al Nuaimi added.

“We took this measure against the two companies after we had received public complaints that the two companies had reduced the can size without decreasing its price. After inspection campaigns we had to take action and this move by both companies is deemed deception of consumers which has to be stopped.”

A Dubai Refreshments source told Gulf News that this was not the issue of the company but the issue of restaurants and hotels as the 300ml can is sold at restaurants and hotels.

Complaints

“So far we have heard no news about any complaints and if there are any, this is not our fault as cans of this size are sold only at restaurants and hotels upon their orders,” said the source.

Coca-Cola, which produces the 330ml and 300ml cans, was not available to comment on the issue.

Al Nuaimi stressed that the ministry had received many complaints from consumers of a significant difference between the price tag exhibited on the shelves and price at the cash counter.

“In the last two days, five suppliers had already paid Dh100,000 each for violating the department’s regulations,” Al Nuaimi said.

“In our meeting with the major outlets, we try to schedule the plans and measures to increase the awareness of the consumers, control the market and prevent exploitation and monopoly in a way that does not affect the profit achieved by the trade establishments and companies,” he said.

In a statement last week, the Ministry of Economy said it would not allow dealers to manipulate prices and ruled out plans to allow vendors to raise prices this year.

After touring the LuLu Hypermarket, Carrefour and Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, “there were no 300ml cans and the only available cans from both Coca-Cola and Pepsi were 350ml and 330ml and they are sold at Dh1.5 with a price clearly tagged on the cans in both Arabic and English.”