Popular soft drinks manufacturers, Messrs 7-Up Bottling Company, makers of Pepsi, and Rites Foods Limited, makers of Bigi drinks were recently invited by the Nigerian Senate to resolve the issue of competition between them.
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions invited the companies to a closed-door meeting following a petition by the lawyers of Rites Foods Limited against the 7-Up Bottling Company.
The manufacturers of Bigi located at Ososa, Ogun State had petitioned the Senate over alleged threat to its security and existence by 7-Up Plc,.
Although the companies were supposed to appear before a public hearing initially, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Patrick Akinyelure decided to mediate between the parties behind closed doors to ensure amicable resolutions.
According to Akinyelure, the parties involved in the dispute are strong players in the industry with high engagement of staff in terms of employment which is more reason the dispute must be settled so that they can continue to add value to the society.
The chairman’s words: “There are three dominant players in the soft drink industry. We have the Coca-Cola, Seven-Up and Rites Foods Nigeria Limited, makers of Bigi soft drink. We appreciate as senior citizens of this country that Rites Foods Limited is a wholly-owned indigenous company that should be encouraged in all ramifications.
“They have only one plant and they have been able to do the magic through the dedicated team of management staff. Within four years, they were able to compete favourably with Coca-Cola and Seven-Up and by market rating they have the market rating.
“When we heard from the Seven UP management, they appreciated the competitiveness of Rites Foods Nigeria Limited the makers of Bigi drinks and also they are developing strategies on how to compete favourably in the market.
“We have been able to sit the two management together because we believe it is an issue that can be resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism that will bring more result to this country than damaging a wholly-owned indigenous company that is competing favourably and we encouraged them to ensure that the issue is resolved amicably.
“We told them that we don’t want this issue to cause any harm because if a company that is engaging over 2000 Nigerians at a time and the other one about 5000 Nigerians, it is our wish in the Senate to see them progressing and adding more value to this country than for issues to destroy them.”
Akinyelure ended by saying the committee had given both companies, two weeks to solve the matter and come back with resolutions that could be adopted so as to end the rift once and for all.