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The collective (which named itself "Interessengruppe Premium") started by running a protest campaign for more than two years against recipe changes in Afri-Cola. This well-known German brand (founded 1931) had just been bought by the Mineralbrunnen Überkingen-Teinach AG in 1999, which then secretly changed the recipe: the new Afri-cola contained a reduced amount of caffeine (the original Afri-cola contained 250 mg/L), and the rather strong taste was significantly softened, in order to meet the taste of a wider variety of customers.
The protests of the "Interessengruppe Premium" led to some public awareness, but remained unsuccessful as far as Afri-cola was concerned, so they started producing the original recipe cola on their own and named it Premium-Cola.
To avoid legal issues with the Mineralbrunnen AG, one ingredient had to be changed later in 2004: phosphoric acid instead of malic acid. This didn't change the taste at all, but marked a change of attitude for the collective: The afri-cola brand itself was no longer of interest.
There is no office, no salaries, and no actual boss. Members of the company choose to which percent of their time they are going to work for the company. For some members Premium is sort of a hobby next to their actual work or studies, for others it is a full-time job. All issues are decided on collectively, there is hardly any advertising - instead, art pictures are printed on the inside of the bottles' labels.
The collective puts much thought into proper brand leading and acting ethically in the economy instead of expanding or selling for any price. Premium-Cola is being sold in selected outlets (not only Clubs and Bars) only, whose philosophy must be similar to that of the brand. Premium Cola started as a little collective a few years ago, but quickly grew to a medium-sized firm that strives to connect economics with ethics in a unique way that seems logical to its members.
The Collective & Premium-OS
It is about the people, we integrate everyone including you (altogether we are the collective), working without a boss and making wise decisions together... We've created an open-source economy model, the Premium-OS (= Betriebssystem) based on fairness, ecology, sustainability and self-motivation. The Premium collective shares in a 100% transparent way this knowledge. Goal is to make it possible for other businesses to use this operating system (= the software). Our products, the premium-drinks (= hardware), are proof that this model and experiment of organizing a company actually works (since 2001, now more than 15 years) in a very balanced and sustainable way.
It shows how it is possible to work with equal rights, equal pay, honestly together and not against each other. It is based on consensus democracy. There are more than 1.700 partners and no written contracts exist. We are not profit based: every single cent goes into the system: the ingredients, the structure, to pay everyone... nothing on top because it is simply not necessary that a person gets profit out of it- instead we focus on a fair payment for everyone and a transparent and social working atmosphere between all partners and long-term. We support small structures (e.g. with the anti-bulk-discount). There is a sheet, where you can see how the price for 1 bottle of Premium-Cola is put together.
Everyone is part of the collective, from the people harvesting the ingredients (e.g. mate in brasil from our small farming family), the people filling up the bottles, transporting the drinks, selling and especially all consumers are part of the Premium-Collective and can make decisions.
It all started with the Premium-Cola, but now there is more drinks: Premium-Bier, Frohlunder (Elderberry fizzy drink), Muntermate (a mate drink), kolle-mate (another mate drink), zotrine (a lemonade).
- Semco, a Brazilian company that is operated by similar structures
- FINDING MARBLES; Inspiring Organisation: Premium Cola
- PSFK; About Premium Cola
- deliciousdays; Premium-Cola for Premium Shops/