A shortage of soft-drinks that hit the country throughout the festive season has persisted, causing a rise in retail prices in some parts of the country as Bralirwa, the country’s sole soft drinks manufacturer assures the public the problem will end this week.
The shortage, which, according to Bralirwa, was caused by the overwhelming demand during the festive season, forced the company to ration stock provided to distributors.
“Because all depots around the country are empty, it’s quite impossible to refill all of them in one day, so we refill according to the orders,” Freddy Nyangezi, Bralirwa’s Corporate Affairs Manager told Business Times last week.
Bralirwa, which bottles Fanta orange, Sprite, Fanta Citron, Fiesta, Tonic, Coca cola and Vital’ O Soda/Soda water through a licensing agreement with Coca Cola Company says the shortage normally comes during the first week of January due to high demand witnessed in the festive season.
A survey conducted by Business Times last week, revealed that depots only stocked the Fanta citron and Tonic brands as they were expecting Sprite and Coca cola in the weekend and Monday (today) while distributors and retailers ere uncertain of when they would get other brands.
“We don’t have any other alternative except telling our customers that we have only one brand soda…one has to either take it or leave it,” said Teopista Ateenyi, of ABC restaurant.
Meanwhile reliable sources told Business Times that the shortage is a result of the country’s fast growing market for soft drinks that has outpaced Bralirwa’s production capacity.
This, according to sources, has prompted Bralirwa to weigh up options of setting up another soft drinks plant.
However, Nyangezi could not divulge details of a planned plant.
He instead said that some brands are missing on the market because of the nature of the machine which has to produce one brand at a time, adding that some distributors are impatient to wait for all brands to fill the crate instead opting to take one brand.
“So they pick one brand today and the next day they find another brand. That’s how you find only one brand a day in the market; so the problem would be if there were no brands in the market,” he said.
Some retailers increased the price of soda from the recommended retail price of Rwf250 per bottle to Rwf300 to cash in on the high demand even as distributors maintained the usual wholesale price of whRwf4,800 per crate.