A growing number of independent Coca-Cola distributors servicing Amalgamated Beverages Industries in KWA-Zulu Natal are boycotting the company's products, claiming discrimination and unfair trading practices by the bottling company.

ABI, a listed subsidiary of SABMiller in South Africa, last year unilaterally culled agreements with independent wholesalers and implemented what they claim was a standardisation of its trading terms policy with its 700 plus independent wholesalers.

The company said its structure was designed to ensure that all independent wholesalers, which provided the same services, were treated equally to ensure equitable trading terms.

There are presently 18 members of the Association of Independent Traders who claim they reap in more than 40% of ABI's monthly turnover in the province and chairman Mahoned Haroun, said more were seeking to join every week.

Haroun said ABI, which distributed mainly in Gauteng, KWA-Zulu Natal and areas of the Free State, gave large national retailers and wholesaler's preferential treatment, providing them with deals for Coke at prices to the public that were lower than the AIT members paid ABI.

Haroun claimed that they had sought repeatedly to negotiate with ABI on this matter, but it had come to naught and as a result they had decided on a boycott policy. The members of the Association mainly supplied corner cafes and general dealers in disadvantaged areas.

ABI strategic affairs manager said," We have tried to negotiate with the wholesalers concerned, but it became clear that their demands were outside the structures agreed with our other independent wholesalers throughout our territory."