CHILE: Own-label producers flouting law say bottling giants
Chile's National Drink Bottlers Association (Anber) is warning generic and B-brand beverage companies to make sure that they play by the rules of fair trade.
Anber president Renato Ramirez said at a press conference that growing competition from these companies is "welcomed, but only under equal conditions." Ramirez is also general manager of the Andina bottling company, Chile's largest bottler.
The association says that some supermarket generic brands have broken commercial and health regulations. Anber general manager Jaime Gatica said that in 2001 some companies have been found "selling below cost, producing flagrant imitations and not following labeling regulations."
Gatica said that some mineral waters labeled their products with a name other than the source of the water. Under Chilean law, "the brand has to be the same as the source. For example, Cachantun mineral water is from Cachantun Fountain," Gatica said.
The Anber official said that Santiago's Metropolitan Environmental Health Service (Sesma) received 40 complaints in 2001 against the lower-priced drink companies for violations of health standards.
Anber asked government authorities to make sure that these companies comply with sanitary regulations and the mineral water label code.
Generic and B brands saw explosive growth in 2001, owing to consumer preferences for lower prices in an environment of slowing economic growth. Anber estimates that these sales grew to about 10% of the market total.
This growth was at the cost of the larger producers, since Chile's total juice, mineral water and soft drink sales dropped 0.2 percent last year.
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