#potd: Drink Coka Quina not C#c@-C#l@ in Bolivia

Travelling around Peru and then Bolivia (and now Chile) we’ve been gobsmacked by the domination of the soft drinks market & industry by C#c@-C#l@. Their signage & promo material is omnipresent, and their drinks are absolutely everpresent. We hardly ever drink their main brand on principal, so it was a pleasant surprise to come across an alternative – Coka Quina. Unsurprisingly a similar taste, and colour, but not bad. Certainly better than Peru’s C#c@-C#l@ part-owned Inca Kola, which was the colour of piss and not much better tasting!

C#c@-C#l@ dominate the sales of bottled water (con gas – fizzy, and sin gas – still), and also carbonated (gaseosas) drinks to a huge extent. In Peru in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and it’s subsidiary/partner Corp JR Lindley (CCC-CRL) had a 49.8% share of the soft drinks market; in Bolivia in 2013 C#c@-C#l@ and its subsidiary/partner EMBOL took 58.3% of the market. Interestingly in the same year PepsiCo & it’s partners/subsidiaries took 9.2% & 17.2% respectively. Which is why when combined C#c@-C#l@ & PepsiCo globally control 35.7% and 71.7 % (by value) of the soft-drink and carbonated soft-drink markets respectively in 2014. And in 2013 their combined spend on global advertising was a whopping $7.27 billion! (See this report on Trade & Investment Liberalisation and the Soft Drinks Market in Peru & Bolivia).

A consequence of this domination, along with the fact that tap water in Peru & Bolivia is largely undrinkable (do so at your peril!), and that from what we saw fizzy drinks were as cheap as bottled water, is that both Peru & Bolivia have very serious problems in terms of obesity, diabetes, dental health and other diet-related health issues. We were amazed at the level of consumption of fizzy drinks! Of equal concern is the resulting plastic bottle waste which increasingly blights every landscape and pollutes the environment. See what that crazy well-known commie chef Jamie Oliver had to say on the health issues: “Parts of south America have been raped by westernised brands“.

So does that just leave Coka Quina as an alternative? Obviously there are a variety of other brands selling bottled water, juiced drinks, and fizzy drinks – you just have to keep an eye out for them, and always check the labels. Another cool option if to buy fresh juiced drinks in the markets & from street-sellers, but here you need to beware potential stomach problems! As for Coka Quina, there’s a wee shortage on info on them – they appear to have started as a family firm in El Alto (above La Paz) some 40+ years ago, and have expanded greatly, basing their marketing on the fact they are Bolivian, but there’s very little useful info on their website.
Further reading: A brief history of Peru’s Inca Kola on Wikipedia.
Coca v Cola – article about C#c@-C#l@ in Bolivia & short interview about Coka Quina in the glossy Bolivian Express.

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