The European purchasing alliance Agecore is increasing the pressure on soft drink producer Coca-Cola. After Intermarché and Netto in France and Edeka in Germany, Belgian Colruyt is now also joining the boycott.
In the Colruyt stores and in the group's Collect & Go webshop, several Coca-Cola products have recently become unavailable. This includes multiple sizes of Coca-Cola Light, the 1-liter bottle of Coca-Cola Regular and Zero Sugar, the 1.5-liter bottle of Fanta Orange, Chaudfontaine water, and Fuze Tea.
Colruyt spokesperson Silja Decock confirms that negotiations with Coca-Cola are not going well, which means that some products have indeed become temporarily unavailable. The retailer does not provide details about the conflict: it wants the conversations to continue discreetly.
"As we want to deal with these conversations in a constructive way, with respect for our partner, we do not want to go into further details and we want the negotiations to take place behind closed doors. We understand that this situation is annoying for customers who can no longer find their usual product in our shelves and wish to apologize for the inconvenience. We as Colruyt Group continue to look for a constructive solution and we want to continue to ensure that we can live up to our lowest price guarantee towards our customers. To be clear: most Coca-Cola products are still on our shelves. It is just a limited number of products that are temporarily unavailable, and that number varies from store to store."
Douwe Egberts issue continues
Another continuing struggle, the negotiations with coffee producer Douwe Egberts, have meanwhile proceeded very constructively, Decock adds: the retailer hopes to reach an agreement in the short term.
"We are therefore convinced that our customers will quickly find their usual products again. We would also like to point out that there are still products from Jacobs Douwe Egberts on our shelves. Here, too, just a limited number of references is temporarily not available. Exactly how many products are in the shelves varies from store to store", she elaborates.
Abuse of dominant position?
It is hardly surprising that Colruyt has decided to stop ordering at Coca-Cola: since the beginning of this year, Intermarché and Edeka (Agecore members as well) have been in conflict with the soft drink producer. Agecore, has previously collided with major food producers such as Nestlé, PepsiCo and Mars.
The conflict is said to be not only about the price hikes that Coca-Cola implemented at the end of last year, but also about the over-dominant position of the producer in the beverage sector: the brand would force retailers to include the full range of its products as a prerequisite to obtain good conditions. Intermarché chairman Thierry Cotillard had already denounced this in early January.
In an analysis for subscribers (now also translated to English), RetailDetail elaborates on the increase in trade disputes in food retail.