KENYA – Coca-Cola Beverages Kenya, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, is back in court, requesting an extension of 10 months to comply with a 2018 directive to include nutritional information, storage details, and contact information on its products.
The directive, affirmed by the Supreme Court in November, mandated the bottler to implement these changes on glass bottles of its Coca-Cola, Krest, Fanta, Sprite, and Stoney brands.
In its application to the High Court, Nairobi Bottlers Ltd emphasized its commitment to complying with the judgment and existing requirements. The company has taken preliminary steps, including engaging the Kenya Bureau of Standards to approve proposed designs.
“The applicant is steadfast in its commitment to comply with the judgment and at the same time with prevailing requirements and requires an extension of 10 months to achieve full compliance,” said the company in the application.
However, the bottler contends that the 2018 judgment lacks specific steps for compliance. The company maintains that its glass-bottled products already adhere to the Standards Act and the Food, Drugs, and Chemical Substance Act.
“To align proposed changes with the judgment, Nairobi Bottlers must collaborate with various government agencies regulating the industry,” said the company.
Kenya High Court judge Chacha Mwita has scheduled a mention of the case for January 31 to provide directions.
The legal battle originated from a petition by Mark Ndung’u Ndumia, who sought to have the nutritional content, customer service contacts, and storage directions displayed on glass bottles, mirroring information available on plastic bottles.
Mark argued that the omission violated Article 46 of the Constitution, constituting discrimination.
The High Court ruled in his favor on January 30, 2018, a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal on July 7, 2023.
Both courts determined that failing to provide product information on product packaging denied consumers their constitutionally guaranteed right to be informed about the nutritional content and storage instructions of their preferred beverages.
Nairobi Bottlers Ltd attempted to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court, but the appeal was dismissed due to a filing technicality.
The company had initially asserted potential costs of up to Kes8 billion (U.S$50.6 million) for producing new glass bottle designs as part of its defense in the legal proceedings.