Pepsi Offers Christmas Alternative

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK While those with a preference for Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite might find it difficult to quench their thirst over Christmas because of shortages, Pepsi drinkers would be smiling all the way to the shops. Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite will be in short supply over the festive season lasting from December to mid-January due to projected disruptions in supply that have been attributed to a carbon dioxide shortage from suppliers. Carbon dioxide is one of the industrial components used in the production of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite. It makes them fizzy and contributes to the unique bubbly taste for which the drinks are known. But Namibia Breweries Head of Corporate Social Investment, Patricia Hoeksema, yesterday assured customers there would be no shortage of Pepsi, Mirinda and Mountain Dew during the coming festive season. “Most volumes in cans will be available throughout, including our beers – Windhoek Lager and Hansa Pilsener,” she said matter-of-factly. While she was reluctant to reveal their source of carbon dioxide, she was adamant that there is more than enough to produce sufficient stocks. Despite the shortage of carbon dioxide experienced by Namibia Beverages, Hoeksema says the pricing for their products will remain the same. Just like previous years, sales during the festive season pick up and the 2006/2007 season will not be an exception, come rain or shine. Meanwhile, retail shops in Windhoek trading in fizzy drinks are in limbo over the recently-announced carbon dioxide shortage which has inevitably affected the full supply of these beverages in the country. There is a high chance that next month there will be a severe shortage of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite in the country and southern Africa as a region. Managing Director of Namibia Beverages, Frik Oosthuizen, confirmed the shortage this week. The problem comes after Afrox, South Africa’s major supplier of carbon dioxide, started experiencing production problems at its Sasolburg and PetroSA plants. Shop-owners, when interviewed yesterday, expressed uncertainty about what they would do next, adding that this is likely to have major financial implications. While the problem has been ongoing for the past two weeks or so in South Africa, by yesterday some retailers were still in the dark as to what was happening in the industry. “We do not know. Actually I cannot say much at this stage because we have not yet been informed (officially) of the problem by Namibia Beverages,” stated Terrance Harty, Managing Director of Pick ‘n Pay. A manager at Shoprite who stated that the problem will surely affect their sales especially during the festive season, said Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite are the most purchased soft drinks. Inasmuch as it is uncertain when the situation in the industry will normalize, he added that if need be they might consider importing from other countries such as Malawi where the situation is likely to be better than in Namibia. Should that happen, he assured that the prices would be higher. With the festive season just around the corner, there could be a shortage of brands such as Fanta, Pine, Fanta Grape, Sprite Zero and Tab, among others. Already, the company is only producing the three popular brands, Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite. “I have no idea by what percentage carbon dioxide will be available. Production will depend on how much carbon dioxide South Africa will supply to us,” said Oosthuizen. The company has already started to feel the pinch as, instead of receiving the normal supply of 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide from their suppliers, it only received 20 tonnes for this month. The supply of fizzy drinks is expected to return to normal by January 2007.