Coke Repackages Juice Brands, But Is Blocked By Costco In Pricing Dispute

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With control over 100 juice companies in more than 145 countries, many acquired in the past 10 years, Coca-Cola is the world’s largest seller of juice. Now, the company has announced plans to create unified global packaging for juices.

Coke’s repackaging follows main rival PepsiCo’s recent abandonment of a Tropicana redesign, in the faced of widespread customer resistance.

Coca-Cola is undeterred: juices will keep their names, but eventually be given the black labels associated with Minute Maid, the group’s leading US juice brand. Guy Wollaert, head of Coca-Cola’s global juice business, feels that the company is “bringing [consumers and brands alike] under a new roof, with a common look and feel, and that allows us to leverage our scale.”[more]

As we reported last month, Coke is also planning its largest social-media project ever, Expedition 206, sending three 20-something bloggers to 206 Coke-stocked locations. The journey begins on January 1 for a 275,000-mile tour from Madrid, stocked with top-of-the-line electronics to help document “their search for happiness” for the masses. Fans will be able to weigh in on what the trio should do and see.

But not everyone is happy. Costco has announced that the shopping warehouse will no longer carry Coca-Cola products in its stores,due to a pricing dispute with the beverage giant. As shoppers continue to grapple with the recession, retailers want to win their favor by giving them low prices.

“Costco is committed to carrying name brand merchandise at the best possible prices. At this time, Coca-Cola has not provided Costco with competitive pricing so that we may pass along the value our members deserve,” said a message on the company’s Web site labeled “Price Alert!”

Often, arguments of this nature are kept behind closed doors, but this one has gone public because Costco sees a clear public relations opportunity at Coke’s expense. Will Coca-Cola brush Costco off their shoulder and wait until the recession blows over? Or will pride be swallowed and prices lowered?

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