[lg policy] Sri Lankans boycott Anchor butter after Fonterra refuses to include Tamil language on packaging

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Sep 14 11:06:30 EDT 2018


 Sri Lankans boycott Anchor butter after Fonterra refuses to include Tamil
language on packaging

JOHN ANTHONY

Last updated 16:14, September 14 2018

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[image: Anchor butter sold in Sri Lanka includes English, Mandarin and
Sinhala but not Tamil on its packaging.]
SUPPLIED

Anchor butter sold in Sri Lanka includes English, Mandarin and Sinhala but
not Tamil on its packaging.

Sri Lankans are being told to boycott Anchor butter because it does not
include one of the country's official languages on its packaging.

Fonterra has been selling dairy products into Sri Lanka for 40 years but
the New Zealand co-operative has found itself at the centre of a political
firestorm for its decision to not include Tamil on its Anchor butter
packaging.

Anchor is the number one dairy brand in Sri Lanka and Fonterra's products
are sold in more than 100,000 stores nation wide.

But its reputation with Sri Lankans is taking a hammering after the Sri
Lankan Government minister responsible for protecting the country's
languages called on the public to boycott Anchor butter.



*READ MORE: * Fonterra loss of $196m its first ever, Spierings gets $8m
farewell pay
<https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/107027100/fonterra-loss-of-196m-its-first-ever-loss?rm=m>
* Protest stops Sri Lankan elephant bound for Auckland Zoo from flying
<https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/91112747/sri-lankan-elephant-bound-for-auckland-?rm=m>*

On Tuesday Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan called on Sri Lankans
to spread the boycott message across social media and told Sri Lankan news
organisation *The Morning* the Commissioner of Official Languages was
investigating the matter.

He also told the publication that Fonterra was in violation of Sri Lanka's
National Language Policy by having information in English and Sinhalese but
not Tamil.

Sinhala and Tamil are both official and national languages in Sri Lanka
while English is the link language.
[image: Sri Lankan Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan has reportedly
launched an investigation into Fonterra not including ...]
SUPPLIED

Sri Lankan Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan has reportedly launched
an investigation into Fonterra not including Tamil on its Anchor butter.

Anchor butter sold in Sri Lanka includes information printed only in
English, Sinhalese, and Mandarin.

Fonterra spokeswoman Philippa Norman said Sri Lankan regulations required
the name of the product to be in any two of the three languages.
Ad Feedback
<http://stuff.co.nz/about-stuff/advertising-feedback/?pos=storybody&adsize=300x250&area=onl.stuff.business/farming>

"As English is already on the packaging, we selected to include Sinhala on
our packaging as it is the most widely spoken language in Sri Lanka,"
Norman said.

Fonterra had not been contacted by the Sri Lankan Government about the
matter, she said.

"We have not breached any regulations."

Some of Fonterra's products like butter, were made in New Zealand and then
exported around the world, she said.
[image: Anchor butter is sold in more than 100,000 stores across Sri Lanka.]
NEVILLE MARRINER/STUFF

Anchor butter is sold in more than 100,000 stores across Sri Lanka.

The same Anchor butter pack that was sold in Sri Lanka was also exported to
several other countries in the region, including China, Malaysia, Singapore
and Hong Kong.

"We ensure that we are compliant with the regulatory requirements of each
of these countries," Norman said.

Fonterra used Tamil, English and Sinhala on most of its other products
packed and sold in Sri Lanka, she said.

Sri Lanka, a nation of more than 20 million people, is a long standing and
key market for Fonterra. Every day it collects more than 35,000 litres of
milk from Sri Lankan farmers and just last year it opened an innovation hub
there.

Most Sri Lankans are familiar with Anchor and its distinctive logo, which
is featured on billboards and signage in markets across the country. The
brand commands more than 60 per cent market share.

University of Auckland business school associate professor Gehan Gunasekara
said he could see why Tamil people would be upset by Fonterra's decision
not to include their language on its butter.

"That could cause some Tamil people to be offended," Gunasekara said.

Gunasekara said he visited Sri Lanka recently and was surprised how
prevalent Anchor branding was.

"You can't go 100 metres without seeing the Anchor brand."

He said it was not really legal a matter but rather a marketing blunder
from Fonterra, and a public relations exercise for the Sri Lankan
politician Ganesan.

"The minister is obviously trying to get some political capital."

This is not the first time Fonterra has run into controversy in Sri Lanka.

In 2013 Sri Lanka ordered a recall of two batches of milk powder
<http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9030054/Fonterras-behaviour-top-news-in-Sri-Lanka>
over a possible contamination by dicyandiamide (DCD), a chemical that has
been used on pasture to control nitrogen loss.

Fonterra disputed the test results and said no traces of the agricultural
chemical were found in more than 200 tests.

The following year Sri Lanka suspended the sale of some Anchor milk powder
<http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/10584883/Sri-Lanka-suspends-Fonterra-sales>
over food-safety fears following a complaint of food poisoning in some
children in the southern village of Girandurukotte, 224 kilometres from the
capital Colombo.

Testing later cleared the product as being safe to consume.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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