Consumers set to benefit from soft drinks price wars

A trader holds different brands of soft drinks. Manufacturers have cut prices as more players enter the market Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

Kampala- Consumers will enjoy carbonated soft drinks at lower prices as players slash prices to appeal to customers and guard their market share.

Century Bottling Company, the manufacturer of Coca Cola products, is the latest with the offer of its 350ml plastic bottled sodas at the same price with Riham’s 320 ml bottles.

This is the second time in less than three weeks that the manufacturer that introduced the 350ml soda bottle early this year, has slashed the price from Shs1,500 to Shs1,200 and now to Shs1,000.

The manufacturer has also cut its 300ml glass bottled soda price from Shs1,000 to Shs800.

The fierce competition in the industry set in early this year, following the entrance of three new players, including Riham, Azam and Fizzy soda brands, a scenario that has seen the former duopoly Century Bottling Company and Crown Beverages, the manufacturer of Pepsi Cola, shade off a considerable market share.
Although there are no readily available figures, consumption trends show that the two players are no longer selling as much as they used to do before the entrance of other players.

Coca Cola’s price cuts follow Pepsi’s recent price reductions, where the soft drinks manufacturer slashed prices of its 500ml 1litre plastic bottled sodas from Shs1,800 to Shs1,500 and from Shs3,000 to Shs2,500, respectively.

Crown Beverages head of sales and marketing Innocent Tibayeita said the move sought to make Pepsi products more affordable to consumers.
“The new prices are also meant to encourage new soda consumers to buy our products because the prices are friendlier especially in these hard economic times,” Mr Tibayeita said.

Stiff competition is expected going forward, now that there are four players on the market yet Uganda’s per capita soda consumption is the lowest in the region at 23 bottles, compared to Kenya’s 40 bottles and Tanzania 35 bottles.

Coca Cola geared up for the rivalry with a $26.7 million (about Shs67.3 billion) investment in new plastic bottle production line this year that is expected to boost its production capacity and lower production costs.

All companies have also upped their marketing budget spent mainly in advertising, bill boards and building a nationwide network of distributors.
This newspaper was, however, unable to get a comment from Coca Cola by press time as the questions were not answered.


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