PepsiCo recently closed the company’s distribution center in southern Mexico to the dismay of soda-drinker in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero.
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The company has followed Coco-Cola to exit Altamirano, less than three months after. As a result, some 70 people have lost their jobs. Guerrero security spokesman Roberto Alvarez said the government is currently investigating the reason behind the closure of the plant closed. “We not ruling out that criminal groups have been pressuring [the company] to extort money from them.”
According to the LA Times, citing a store owner in Altamirano, a local gang permits only two trucking companies to bring in soda at 50% higher prices and local stores can only buy from those firms. If sodas are brought from elsewhere the stock is confiscated at gang checkpoints.
“Soft drinks form a part of our diet, people drink them in their homes, so imagine when the two main distributors in the whole region practically leave,” Alvarez explained.
“When Coca-Cola closed its operations, the only company that remained was Pepsi Cola, and they obviously became the target of the criminal groups.”
PepsiCo Mexico, in a statement, said: “Our bottler Grupo Gepp made the difficult decision to suspend their operations in Ciudad Altamirano because the necessary conditions to distribute its products did not exist. PepsiCo respects the decision.”
A company executive reportedly told Bajo Palabra newspaper that all three levels of Mexico’s Government were aware of the insecurity “and never did anything.”
Competitor Coca-Cola made similar remarks, saying their employees in Altamirano “began receiving constant threats and attacks by organized crime.” The company, at the time, also cited a “recent unjustified attack” on an employee.
Mexican Employers’ Federation official, Joel Moreno Temelo, blamed the government for the closure of the distribution plants. “We are very concerned, and we are against what is happening, but the federal government is not acting.”