Packaging of underweight products by local producers saddens – CUTS-International

Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International wishes to express sadness over the increased cases of under weight products that have flooded the Zambian market. The concern reported by some retailers like Melisa Supermarket to one electronic media institution reveals the extent to which producers are exploiting consumers.

Melisa has complained that most of locally manufactured goods the chain store buys from local manufactures are underweight products, a story cover on ZNBC’s “the reporter” programme on 8th August 2010.

Many consumers in Zambia are not fully aware of their rights hence businesses are taking advantage of this situation. This should not be the case; as consumers should always be at the apex of any business entity.

“Consumers are important in economic development. In the business circle for example, the sole and end purpose of all production is consumption. The purpose of economic planning is to allocate resources, as far as possible, to the satisfaction of consumers’ needs. This leads directly to the idea of consumer sovereignty, as the purpose of economic activity is to allocate resources equitably and meet consumers’ needs. And then, there is a logical, moral and political force in the proposition that the right person to make the decision about the allocation of resources to her or his own needs is the consumer her/himself,” says CUTS-International, Lusaka Acting Centre Coordinator Patrick Chengo.

Mr Chengo further explains that, it is high time retailers leant from Melisa and reported such kind of issues. Retailers need to need to play a monitoring role, as they are the ones who are directly connected to primary consumers. Consumers as well should be proactive and detect such kind of unfair practices. With this stringent monitoring framework, we will help make Zambian products reflect their real value

“It’s also worth mentioning that, if such acts are not stopped, they will have a negative effect on the country’s image at international level. Some of these products are being sold across borders and in some of these countries, they have stringent weight monitoring laws and this could have an effect on the country’s image. Once such products detected, then it

will have very severe effects even on genuine products as they will also be considered “cheating products,” observes Mr Chengo.

Mr Chengo further challenges the Zambia Weights and Measures Authority to extensively show their teeth on the matter. “In fact, the whole business activity needs a complete scrutiny. There is need to conduct an extensive diagnosis of consumer product violation in Zambia. A proper understanding on how businesses are conforming to stipulated standards under the Zambia Bureau of Standards Act and Weights and Measures Act needs to be undertaken”.

“Labeling standards should be the main issue to underscore. Issues relating to weights and the kind of advertising in Zambia (especially misleading adverts) should also be the core of this product diagnosis”.

And Mr Chengo has urged consumers to be careful with the kind of cosmetic products that have also flooded the Zambian market. Products, both branded and none branded products, ranging from baby oil, to face powder, lipstick, fairness creams etc seem to have become indispensable. “Due to the lack of purchasing power therefore, a majority of consumers buy low quality products which are seldom manufactured following stipulated procedures”.

“Lady’s make up such as eye liners and eye shadows have successively come into the modern fashion, but however most of these products have got no mention of the chemicals used in the preparation of the product on their labels. There are also no written instructions on how to use these products. Learning from India, a country that has also been flooded by such kind of products, they have lead to trachoma and blindness, says Chengo”

“It is therefore, important for authorities like the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) and Pharmaceuticals Authority of Zambia to be more vigilant and take to task such kind of cases which hinder on consumer safety seriously. Consumer safety is one fundamental consumer rights recognised even at international level. Therefore, products being produced within and those entering the country need to be stringently scrutiniesd. We wish to commend ZABS and the pharmaceutical authority on the work they are doing but enhancing their monitoring mechanism especially at entry points and within the market circles remains vital, added Mr Chengo.

Mr Chengo has also urged the manufacturing/production community to produce safe products by ensuring that consumers, who are the paying for the product, get safe goods. This should also trickle down to the suppliers who should also ensure that consumers get safe products.