Beverage Companies Form Lobby Group to Counter Criticism in India
"Lobby Will Lower Health and Safety Standards"
For Immediate Release
July 8, 2010
San Francisco: Beverage companies in India, led by
Coca-Cola and Pepsico, have formed an alliance to counter the growing
campaigns against the beverage industry.
The Indian Beverage Association (IBA) has been formed to "create a
singe point of interaction with the Indian government" and will serve
as a lobbying organization modeled after the American Beverage Association
(ABA), according to media reports.
"Whether it is health issue or the pollution issue, soft drink companies
are the softest targets right from activists to government regulators.
So it's high time they that they came together," Arvind Varma, secretary-general
of the IBA told the India Today group.
The IBA is expected to work on a number of critical issues facing
the beverage industry currently in India, including the growing challenge
from farmers objecting to water use by beverage companies, particularly
in water stressed areas, water pricing, pollution, food safety, public
health issues, marketing to children, labeling, misleading claims
in advertisements and taxes.
Campaigns across India have forced regulators in India to take positions
on these issues, and regulators are often ill prepared to regulate
the industry. As beverage companies expand their markets and production,
conflicts are rising and demands for strict enforcement of regulations
continue to grow.
Coca-Cola and Pepsico have been the target of campaigns accusing the
companies of depleting water resources and pollution. One of Coca-Cola's
largest bottling plants in India has been shut down by the government
since March 2004. Pepsico was ordered in March this year to reduce
its water usage at its plant in Kerala by 65% because of depleted
The companies and their products have also come under attack by activists
in India and globally for the adverse public health impacts, particularly
obesity and related health problems. The India Resource Center is
gearing up with allies to challenge the nutritional double standards
of the food and beverage industries in India.
"While Coca-Cola and Pepsico products are being regulated out of the
marketplace in the US and Europe for health reasons, these companies
are aggressively marketing the same products in India and China. Such
a double standard must be challenged. The health of Indians and Chinese
are as valuable as the health of Americans and Europeans," said Amit
Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning
The formation of the Indian Beverage Association does not bode well
for the Indian public, especially if it is modeled after the American
New York Times reported on July 2, 2010 that the "American
Beverage Association spent $9.4 million in the first four months of
the year to oppose New York's soda tax." "All but $120,000 went to
Goddard Claussen," a public relations firm which ran a slick media
campaign "ignoring academic studies showing that sugar-sweetened beverages
are a big source of excess calories in the American diet."
The state of New York had proposed a penny-an-ounce tax on soft drinks
to offset the public health care costs from obesity.
"The Indian Beverage Association is a lobbying group that will influence
the government to lower standards for protecting our communities,
our environment and our health. Instead of India having the highest
standards to protect the public interest, the IBA will push for the
lowest standards. This is not a good thing for India," said R. Ajayan
of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee, a statewide organization in
Kerala campaigning against Coca-Cola.
Dabur, Tetra Pak, Pearl Drinks, Bengal Beverages, Red Bull, Jain Irrigation
Systems, Bisleri International, Parle Agro, Amul and Godrej are other
companies expected to join the IBA, according to the Economic Times.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 (US)
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