September 09, 2006

Liquid Candy

Slow weekend, so I thought I'd drop in a quick post about something that just rubs me the wrong way. Without a fight, the insidious forces of evil reduced our soda-value by 25% over the past two years. No protests, no hippie folk music, no marching through the streets...

For years soda bottlers have attempted to gently nudge the price point of a two-liter bottle of soda upwards from 99 cents to a buck-fiddy or more, yet we resisted, we fought long and hard, and you could still get yourself some decent, legitimate flavors of soda for under a dollar. That is, until the day the soda died...

Retailers, always looking to be your soda-pusher of choice, failed to cooperate with the soft drink companies and would constantly undercut the competition by offering sale prices ranging from 89 cents to $1.09. The financial arrangement between the suppliers and bottlers and retailers was such that it was in the retailers best interest to sell more product, turning volume sales to their advantage. This did nothing for the bottlers, as they couldn't raise their prices, due to cutthroat competition.

So what were those poor bottlers to do?

If your goal is increasing profit margins, you can either charge more or provide less. Due to the retailers lack of cooperation, they were unable to get us to consistently pay more for 2 liters -- so instead the insidious League of Evil Soda opted to ease us into paying the same money for less product: 25% less soda, same 99 cents! What a terrific bargain!

While many soda outlets are increasing the amount of soda that constitutes a serving, the bottlers have shrunk what we get for our hard-earned buck. We pay for the "convenience" of a more manageable soda size. "It's a bottle you can handle," said Harriet Tolve, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, corn subsidies have kept the price of corn relatively stable during the past 10 years. Why does that matter, you wonder - because corn syrup is the primary ingredient in soda. So since the cost of production hasn't increased significantly, what's the justification for the diminished value?

Because they can, of course. Things are as expensive as they can be in our market economy, and we're accustomed to paying $.99 for soda, regardless of the size. And if that's what's on the shelves, that's what we buy. And they know that about us. And they know we'll suck it up.

And we do. Because Dr. Pepper is just so damn good...


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