Relief for Coke, Pepsi after UAE ditches can ban

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags United arab emirates

Relief for Coke, Pepsi after UAE ditches can ban
Coca-Cola has welcomed a decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Economy to reverse its ban on the sale of 300ml cans, which also saw cans of other sizes stripped from shelves last week, after a row broke out last week about their illegal presence in retail outlets.

A statement yesterday from the Dubai and Sharajah Departments of Economic Development (DED, SDED), indicated that the blanket sales ban on 300ml cans (which also led confused retailers to remove 330ml cans) would be lifted.

Cans were initially removed from sale on Monday after the ministry alleged that the firms were "cheating"​ consumers by selling the smaller cans (instead of 355ml and 330ml variants) without printed price tags in retail outlets, in violation of consumer protection laws.

Asked whether Coca-Cola had incurred any expenses as a result of cans being removed from sale, a spokesman told "There were no costs associated with this as we did not have any 300ml cans of Coke, Sprite or Fanta in retail outlets.

"Our bottlers’ distribution is controlled and as far as we know no spill occurred. Only hotels and restaurants had this pack size and with the revised authorities decision we will continue to supply them as approved."

Cans ‘leaked’ onto retail market

DED and SDED said yesterday that they had met with Pepsi and Coke’s suppliers to review distribution mechanisms and discuss the supply of 300ml cans in the market.

At the meeting, DED confirmed that 300ml cans of Pepsi and Coca-Cola were only intended for sale in hotels, tourist restaurants or for export, and that retailers in the UAE were only allowed to sell 330ml cans priced at AED 1.50 (30 euro cents).

The suppliers stressed their desire to follow UAE laws, and noted that it was likely that some cans destined for export might have “leaked”​ into some retail outlets.

Following an investigation with Dubai’s five leading retailers – Carrefour, Emirates Co-Operative Society and Union Co-operative Society – DED said it was ensuring that they didn’t sell 300ml cans.

DED keeps tabs on market

Omar Bushahab, chief executive officer of the DED’s Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division, said: “We focus on conducting field trips to all retail outlets to inspect prices and other relevant issues to reassure consumers that we are monitoring the market closely.

“We are also keen to coordinate with retail outlets in Dubai to guarantee consumer rights and apply the highest standards of service in line with the Consumer Protection Law.”

Commenting on a reversal of the ban, Bushahab said that 300ml cans were necessary in hotels due to different standards of storage and distribution, with pricing set according to international standards and subject to a 10% municipality fee.

To use cans of different sizes, hotels would need to reorganise distribution systems, requiring more time and investment, Bushahad added. But this ran contrary to the business friendly policy of the Government of Dubai, he said.

Khalifa Misbah Al Ketbi, director of the Control and Protection of Trade Department, SDED said it would be beneficial for suppliers and the Departments of Economic Development in the UAE to co-operate in ensuring that ‘for export only’ tags were printed on 300 ml cans, ensuring that products for export did not leak into the retail market.

Related topics Regulation & safety Carlsberg PepsiCo

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