Rabat - The Sidi Ali-Oulmes mineral water company has finally reacted to the online boycott which targets “unjustified” price increases in Morocco. After three weeks of silence, the company has contested boycotters’ arguments by pointing fingers at Morocco’s taxation policies.
Rabat – The Sidi Ali-Oulmes mineral water company has finally reacted to the online boycott which targets “unjustified” price increases in Morocco. After three weeks of silence, the company has contested boycotters’ arguments by pointing fingers at Morocco’s taxation policies.
The company’s statement does not seem to answer the boycotters’ demands. However, Sidi Ali believes that this was the right time to release an official reaction to the campaign.
On Wednesday, the mineral water giant, managed by CGEM standing CEO Meriem Bensaleh, released an exclusive statement explaining its reasons for “not lowering” its prices.
While boycotters were eagerly waiting for the company’s official reaction, Sidi Ali told customers not to expect any decrease in prices unless country’s taxation policy changes.
In the statement, Sidi Ali claims bottled water is “subjected to high taxation.”
The company then shared it has “paid MAD 657,072,912 in taxes,” in 2017, which includes the value-added natural resources consumption tax and environmental tax.
The company justified its delayed response, emphasizing they wanted to “take our time to listen and analyze the expectations of citizens and loyal customers.”
Sidi Ali “ Has Minimal Profit”
Bensaleh’s company asserted that it paid a municipality tax of MAD 99,056,958 to the Commune d’Oulmès in 2017, and paid MAD 48,288,916 to the state for the natural resources consumption tax.
The statement explained that the selling price includes other expenses, such as distribution costs and a margin for retailers.
The statement claimed that the company earns a very small profit. “The margin earned [on the sale] of Sidi Ali is 7 percent, or 40 centimes per bottle of 1.5 liter.”
Prices Remain the Same
Refuting the claims of boycotters, who said that the company has monopolized the Moroccan market and increased its prices, Sidi Ali wrote that it made a decision not to “increase the selling prices of all bottle sizes since 2010.” The decision was taken “despite steady inflation and the increase of the costs of items,” including taxes and raw materials.
The statement added that Sidi Ali bottles of 1.5 litres are distributed at the recommended prices of MAD 5 in supermarkets and MAD 5.50 at small retailers. According to the statement, the prices can be “freely modified” based on Law 06-99 on the freedom of pricing.
Sidi Ali’s response has not satisfied the demands of boycotters. The statement received widespread backlash from Moroccan online activists.
“Everyone knows that in other countries, mineral waters and spring waters are much cheaper than ours. In Morocco, the purchasing power is higher. In some countries, these waters are even free,” argued one angry commenter.
Another consumer wrote that Sidi Ali is “refusing to lower its prices and asks Moroccans to pay more instead.”
Sidi Ali’s response came after Centrale Danone’s reaction to the boycott last week. Centrale Danone published a statement denying that it had increased the price of its dairy products.
“Conscious of the value of milk and its health benefits, Centrale Danone has maintained the price of milk since July 2013, despite continuous rise of its production expenses.”
The company also apologized to its consumers for statements made by its purchasing director Adile Benkiran, who characterized the boycott as a “betrayal” of the country and its products.
Afriquia Gas is the only company that hasn’t released an official stance. However, Aziz Akhannouch, owner of Afriquia Gas and Minister of Agriculture made his position clear on the boycott when he expressed support for Centrale Danone at the International Agriculture Fair, which took place in Meknes in April.
Denouncing the boycott, Akhannouch said that the “internet cannot stop 470,000 employees in the dairy sector.”
The boycott, which started on April 20, is ongoing.