Costco Bans Coca-Cola

A dispute over pricing has led Costco to stop selling a number of Coca-Cola brands, which means all Coke varieties as well as Sprite, Squirt, Dasani water, and Full Throttle energy drinks, reports the Associated Press.

The two companies will almost certainly work out some sort of pricing deal and make-up eventually, but in the meantime you’ll have to buy your soda elsewhere. But does it matter? A retail consultant over at retailwire.com notes that Costco was never a huge discounter of soft drinks in the first place, so maybe it will be a good thing to free up shelf space for other deals.

“Costco stops carrying Coke drinks in price dispute” [Associated Press]
“Costco Stops Selling Coca-Cola” [RetailWire] (registration required)
(Photo: ChodHound)

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  1. bigd7387 says:

    Wow another place I don’t shop anyways. I shop Kroger, Giant Eagle and a local shop, never seen a reason to shop the Walley Worlds of the food business.

  2. lehrdude says:

    Who buys soda at Costco?

    It’s much cheaper to wait for it to go on sale at CVS/Walgreens every other week. I’ve belonged to these shopping clubs for years, and if I EVER bought soda from one of them, it was only because I NEEDED it in a super rush and didn’t have time to make another stop.

  3. Jesse says:

    I wonder if this will affect their food courts since I think all locations have Coke fountains.

  4. Coelacanth says:

    I always frown upon an establishment that doesn’t offer Coke products (and believes Pepsi is a suitable alternative.)

    Then again, I rarely shop as Costco.

    • Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather says:

      @Coelacanth: I disagree with you, I love Pepsi, but this debate would go on till the end of time :-)

      • plim says:

        @Burning pakalolo not even noticing the weather: I’m with you. I frown upon establishments that only offer Coke products and thinks they’re suitable alternative for Pepsi. =)

        • diasdiem says:

          @plim: You’re all wrong. Dr Pepper all the way. Mr. Pibb is an abomination!

          • DreamTheEndless: Death's little brother says:

            @diasdiem: 7up is where it’s at. Sprite, Slice, Sierra Mist, etc. are NOT suitable substitutes. I end up drinking 1/2 Sprite and 1/2 carbonated water if I need a soda in a restaurant if 7up isn’t available. (And 7up is never available…)

        • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

          @plim: I stopped eating at Wendy’s when they started selling coke products.

          Taco Bell/KFC/Long John Silvers/Arbys FTW

          • coan_net says:

            @csparks: Well at one time PepsiCo owned Taco Bell, KFC & Long John Silvers – so places like McDonalds will NEVER serve Pepsi since in a round about way, it helps their competitors.

            Of course PepsiCo spun off it’s food brand into Yum.

            And of course the other places serve whatever will give them the best deals.

            … and it is funny, I stopped eating at Wendy’s as much also when I could not get my Mountain Dew anymore. I do occasionally, but now will pass that to go to Taco Bell since I know they have my Dew.

            • gfonner says:

              @coan_net: The McDonalds in College Park, Maryland serves Pepsi.

            • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

              @coan_net: Yeah, and I believe I read on wikipedia that Yum has a lifetime agreement to serve Pepsi Products, which is awesome, at least I know where to go if I want a Pepsi (which is pretty much all the time, if I am not drinking coffee or smoking!)

  5. PsiCop says:

    I have NEVER bought soda in a warehouse club. Their prices are ALWAYS higher than when supermarkets run sales. And while the supermarkets don’t run soda sales nearly as often as they used to, they still happen often enough that I can get 12-packs for $2.50 a piece or full cases for $5.00 or even less, as often as I need.

    Just the other day I stocked up at that price, and now have enough soda stockpiled for a couple of months.

    I don’t know why the warehouse clubs have so staunchly refused to be competitive in soda pricing, but that’s how they’ve been operating as long as I’ve been going to them (and that’s over 2 decades now).

    • missdona says:

      @PsiCop: I can routinely get 5 12-packs for $10 over the summer.

    • bishophicks says:

      @PsiCop:

      I agree. I shop at a warehouse club regularly and never by soda there. I buy it during big sales at the Stop and Shop next door. $2.00 – 2.50 per 12-pack is about as low as I’ve ever seen it. Buy a bunch around Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas when the sales are best. I’m glad Thanksgiving is coming. The stack of 12-packs in my basement is dwindling.

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      @PsiCop: In CA, I can get a 36 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper for $10 at Costco, or I can get two 24 packs on sale at Wal-Mart for $12.

      I stock up when its on sale, which is about once a month at the Super Wal-Mart down the road from me.

  6. Randomeis says:

    Glass bottled Cokes are about the only Warehouse Sodas worth buying in bulk. That goes double if they can get the sugar cane ones from south of the border.

  7. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    Hmm. I am surprised, given Consumerist’s somewhat irreverent style, that this article was not tagged “Welcome to Costco; I love you.”

  8. nightsodark says:

    I shop at Costco nearly exclusively. I don’t like having to jump through hoops to get deals nor am I impressed with buy ten items and get a coupon off your next purchase nonsense. Both are games that grocery stores play.

    That said, when I come to expect to find certain items at Costco and have done so for years and then they stop carrying it because the manufacturer raised the price and Costco “wants to give the consumer the best deal” annoys me to no end. Last week is was the kitty litter I’ve been purchasing for over a year…and the cheaper kind to boot.

    My boyfriend likes to get Coke on occasion and he really liked that Costco carried the kind that uses sugar instead of HFCS…he’s gonna be bummed.

    • CyGuy says:

      @nightsodark: I wonder if the real sugar Coke is going to be affected in that it is imported from Mexico and not purchased from a US bottler. The one problem I could see is that customers looking to buy regular US Coke in cans will have to buy the real sugar bottles and they will sell out rapidly every time they get a shipment.

    • jaya9581 says:

      @nightsodark: I wouldn’t call it “nonsense” just because you don’t understand how to do it. Last week I got hundreds of dollars of name-brand products at the grocery store for less than $20 out of my own pocket, and still had $43 in coupons off my next purchase.

    • brandymb says:

      @nightsodark: Every single time Costco gets in a sparkling water drink I like, after I buy it about twice, they discontinue it. Grrrr.

  9. pdxazn says:

    The soda price at Costco is too high. I never brought from them.

  10. calittle says:

    Just another reason to stop drinking soda altogether (he says, as he eyes his open Diet Coke can next to the laptop).

  11. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    Please no harsh criticisms of Coca_Cola, CostCo or (don’t even think about it!) CONSUMERIST, there is only sooo much 6 people can do to keep you informed/entertained.

    Cheers

  12. Shadowman615 says:

    Will they still sell Pepsi products? Or no soda altogether?

    I do get soda from costco, since we go through it pretty quick. Diet-types only anymore. Yes we know some people think artificial sweeteners are bad. I don’t care, I just don’t want all the sugar.

  13. jayphat says:

    In my previous job with Wally World, be actually removed every last piece of coke from the store because they failed to keep it stocked and we got tired of complaints. It didn’t last long as one of their sernior VP’s flew in and had a one-on-one with us where he kissed some major ass and told us there would be changes to how we were being stocked.

    The changes were a simple fix. Don’t pay a stocker to come to the store and sit and talk for 2 hours.

    • itsnotbecca says:

      @jayphat:

      I hate the way Coke sales reps act! It’s like they are always playing chicken…I mean, what are you going to do, not sell Coke?

  14. CaptainSemantics says:

    Pfft. I grow my own soda at home…

  15. iron_chef says:

    Meh. No big loss. It’s not like Coke can’t be bought elsewhere.

    If coke won’t play nice with prices, they don’t deserve to be in Costco. It’s practically all Kirkland stuff anyways.

    • xDibbler says:

      @iron_chef: Is it all Kirkland anymore? I’ve considered switching from Sam’s Club to Costco because I’m sick of everything slowly changing from a name brand product to “Members Mark”. If Costco is doing the same thing I might as well stay where I am. …and the only soda that Sams sells cheap is usually IBC Root Beer or occasionally they might have Jones Soda for a good price.

  16. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Aldi for the win!

    But seriously, purchasing sugar water in general is a waste of money.

  17. settsu says:

    Damn, you people drink a lot of soda. We’re talking about carbonated brown water with a corn-based sweetener here.

    I hope, for the sake of some people’s lives, this event stretches out for weeks.

    *Cue sarcastic/indignant comments*

  18. babyruthless says:

    Man, all of these comparison prices for soda makes me glad we barely drink the stuff. A place I volunteer at has a $0.25 coke machine (Coca-Cola donates the soda, and they sell it as a small fundraiser.) I buy 4 cans a week, which we drink mainly mixed with rum (Sprite and Rum is the favorite–a Santo Libre). I’ve decided that my consumption of sodas is like a gas–it will expand to fill the parameters I give it. If we have a 12-pack, we’ll drink that in a week. If we have 4 sodas, we’ll drink that in a week. If we have none, we almost never go make a special run to get them.

  19. djkatscan says:

    Not Costco that I ever went to has ever carried Full Throttle drinks. I would have actually gone there if they did.

  20. justjoe says:

    The whole reason Costco & Sam’s Club never really bother offering Coke (and Pepsi for that matter) at lower prices is that they offer it for their C-Store, vending, and restaurant customers. I used to work for Sam’s Club and we had several members buy it by the pallet. We were able to sell a quantity that was manageable to them since the bottlers typically won’t sell 15 cases to someone.

    I guess in this case Coke is jacking up the price, so Costco is playing “who’s is bigger”. The members who complain enough will get those products back.

    As for the average consumers… The prices are too high. Better “deals” at whatever supermarket you are shopping at.

  21. CompyPaq says:

    I used to do some vending machine sales. It was cheaper to buy soda wholesale from Costco than from Coke. It was probably also a breach of contract, but Coke never complained that we weren’t making enough orders.

  22. forgottenpassword says:

    we used to have coke at our workplace, but cocoa cola demanded that we buy a certain amount every month or we couldnt buy directly from them anymore. So we dropped them & bought from local stores who sold it (sams club)

  23. gerrycomo says:

    Coca-Cola always had a slight caramel aftertaste compared to Pepsi, to which I prefer. But the best soda pop are the RW Knudsen Spritzers.

  24. WEGGLES90 says:

    Ban isn’t the right word. They’ve stopped selling it… they haven’t banned it. It seems like they’re working it out.

  25. MooseOfReason says:

    Coca Cola also owns Minute Maid orange juice.

  26. MrEvil says:

    Squirt is not owned by Coca Cola last I checked. It is owned by the same folks that own RC Cola, A&W, and 7Up. It’s just that whatever Coke bottler sells to Costco has a distribution agreement with Coke. What brands a given Coca Cola bottler carries varies throughout the country.

  27. thrashanddestroy says:

    Oh crap, looks like I’ll have to buy a case of that Mexican Coca-Cola next time I work otherwise I’ll be screwed out of tasting the sweet memories of my childhood.

  28. D2daizon says:

    I’m not surprised at Cokes action here. They have been steadily letting Mom and Pop diners switch over to Pepsi basically because they want to cut their labor costs for delivery drivers. Evidently it’s cheaper not to deliver to low volume customers or in their case charge a rather large delivery fee. They are such a dominate player world-wide it’s difficult to show growth to investors. Which of course is all Wall Street is ever concerned about, otherwise they flee your stock like all the money has been made. I think Coke must be trying to increase their profits threw price increases, I barely ever see 12-pack cans for less then $3. They probably want to reduce Costco’s buying power with them, obviously Costco isn’t going to budge, they sell A LOT of Coke.

  29. MrGutts says:

    @diasdiem: I think that is the main problem that Costco is having. It’s not really a good deal to buy it from Costco at bulk and Costco knows that.

  30. SacraBos says:

    @diasdiem: You can at least keep it company…

  31. missdona says:

    @PsiCop: It was a pleasant surprise when I moved to Jersey. Food Town, Shop Rite, Stop & Shop– any given one will have a deal like that during the summer.

    One of the few upsides of Jersey. That and cheap gas that you don’t have to pump.

  32. GearheadGeek says:

    @MikeHerbst: Pallets?! Do you have a forklift in your pantry?

  33. Kuchen says:

    @qwerty001984: I have never smoked, and I don’t drink coffee, but I greatly prefer Coke to Pepsi. I will drink Diet Pepsi if I have to, but regular Pepsi is just too sweet.

    @DreamTheEndless: Death’s little brother: Totally agree, 7up is way better than all of the other lemon-lime sodas.

  34. Starfury says:

    @plim:

    We only buy soda when it’s on sale for $3/12 or $6/24 or cheaper. The local stores have it on sale at least once a month so we stock up. If the price went up a lot we’d just quit drinking it.

  35. nightshade74 says:

    @ToddMU03:
    It’s “coke” …

    [popvssoda.com:2998]

  36. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    @ToddMU03: Pop is a kind of music, not a type of drink. The type of product that is the topic of this article is properly referred to as malted battery acid.

  37. psm321 says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: @Smashville_now with Monster Energy: It is most definitely pop. Not soda or the generic coke. //recalls having a holy war in the dorms over this

  38. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @valthun:
    Safeway is a separate company & has no connection to Kroger.
    Safeway owns Von’s, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Pavilions & Carrs.
    I got all the names off the bottom of a calendar they give out.

    But I’ve never understood not renaming the stores. The Dominick’s name is so trashed here in Chicago, no one understands why they kept it. Before Safeway decided to remodel the stores a couple of years ago, they were desperately trying to sell it off for about a quarter of what they paid for it! But Safeway had so wrecked it, nobody wanted it, even at a bargain price.

    And the remodeled Dominick’s look exactly like the Von’s I’ve been in when I went to California.

  39. nbs2 says:

    @nstonep: Don’t forget Maryland!

  40. Smashville says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: Kroger. So not Walmart owned.

    *ducks*

  41. theblackdog says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: |*STATEMENT_THAT_BEST_FRIEND_IS_MINORITY_GROUP_MEMBER*|

  42. DerangedRoleModel says:

    @scoosdad: Especially if Hess is around.

  43. mmmsoap says:

    @Quake ‘n’ Shake: Yup, the “soda guy” and the “bread guy”, which I frankly have never understood. Why do those products get stocked by reps, but all others by store employees? When working in a supermarket as a teen, and now shopping as an adult, I see quite a few people go to them for help only to be given “Sorry, I don’t work here” as a response. That leaves the customer usually baffled if not outright insulted, particularly since their assumption was pretty reasonable.

  44. heart.shaped.rock says:

    @Quake ‘n’ Shake: Not only do the beverage vendors have to stock their own products at the stores, WalMart has just started requiring the vending companies who own the machines outside the store to stock the Sam’s Club machines, as well. The vending companies have to purchase the Sam’s Club pop from the store itself, and then stock the machines. The next step is that the Coke and Pepsi stockers will have to stock the generic brand on the shelves, too.

  45. MikeHerbst says:

    @GearheadGeek:

    I guess the proper name is “flats”. The cardboard tray with like 30 or 36 bottles all shrink-wrapped together…

  46. ktjamm says:

    @Kuchen: Well, there is something to be said about genetic defects as well…

  47. RvLeshrac says:

    @Kuchen:

    Squirt is the best ‘lemon’ soda you can get in the US.

    However, there are plenty of carbonated fruit drinks (most of them imported) that taste *FAR* better than anything else.

  48. hotdogsunrise says:

    @psm321: Ready?

    Soda Pop is the full name of this beverage. “Pop” is the last name. Therefore, you should refer to soda as Mr. Pop.

    I like to call him by his first name, soda.

    (Okay, so it might not be the best logic, but that’s what I’m sticking with!)

  49. psm321 says:

    @hotdogsunrise: That’s infidel logic based on a false premise :-P

  50. hotdogsunrise says:

    @psm321: But clever, right? Am I right?

    I live about a half hour away from those who think much like you and call soda “pop”. I’ve also had many battles on this. Let’s agree to disagree.

    (But I’m right.)

  51. secret_curse says:

    @mmmsoap: I think it’s because those products are made at a factory relatively close to the store which has its own delivery network. The soda and bread companies want to make sure their product is fresh on the store shelves and the best way to make that happen is to deliver it yourself.

  52. scoosdad says:

    @DerangedRoleModel: Hess is indeed the one I patronize, but at this time of year I worry that their stock has been exposed to freezing temperatures and may be bad. Even when the can doesn’t break open, it just doesn’t taste the same after being frozen and thawed out again.

    Same in the summertime when it gets hot outside. Extreme heat does a number on the artificial sweetner in Diet Coke, for example.

  53. LastError says:

    @kaceetheconsumer: Agreed. The only Coke worth drinking are the ones from Mexico made with real sugar. They simply taste SO MUCH better than the corn syrup Cokes. To hell with the fake CornCokes. Coke should be ashamed that they even make that crap. Awful.

    The Mexicokes takes like the ones I got when I was a kid, except unlike most childhood memories, this one is still real and drinkable and THERE. It’s the real thing. Everything else is crap.

    Yes, I have tried the Mexican sugar Pepsi and it’s good but not as good as the Mexicokes.

    Anyway, GO COSTCO! Stick it to them!

  54. Green Goth Brit Chick - AlternatEve says:

    @hotdogsunrise: Around my neck of the woods (IE North East England) it’s called pop. Ask for soda and you get carbonated water.

  55. csyria says:
  56. palfas says:

    @ToddMU03: Amen brother.

    Pop for life!