Coke to Fleece America by Charging More for Less, Says CSPI
$8.50 a Gallon for Small Cans of Water & High Fructose Corn Syrup?
WASHINGTON—In recent ads, Coca-Cola cheerfully congratulated itself for introducing a new, 7.5-ounce can of soda. While calorie counters may appreciate the convenience of a 90-calorie can, dollar counters may be in for sticker shock: On an ounce-for-ounce basis, the new cans cost 50 to 140 percent more than 12-ounce cans.
In Washington, D.C., 12-packs of 12-ounce cans have been available for between $4 and $5.99 at Giant and Safeway stores. Both stores charge $3.99 for 8-packs of the new 7.5-ounce cans. So while the bigger cans have been selling for between $0.89 and $1.33 per quart, the new cans sell for $2.13 a quart, or about $8.50 a gallon.
So far, the vaunted 7.5-ounce cans are only available in some New York City and Washington, D.C., retail outlets. The company says they'll be available nationwide in April. Sandy Douglas, the president of Coca-Cola North America, claims the new mini can is an "innovation" that "reinforces the Company's support for healthy, active lifestyles." But attentive shoppers may wonder what all the fuss is about. Coca-Cola has sold 8-ounce cans and bottles of Coke for years (again, at significantly inflated prices).
"The only 'innovation' here is that Coke is charging more money for less product," Jacobson said. "Then again, these are the same folks who are ripping off Americans with expensive frauds like the 'calorie-burning' Enviga. And 'endurance peach mango' VitaminWater, which, besides doing nothing for one's endurance, contains no peach or mango. Now, the company wants a pat on the back for selling little cans of water and high-fructose corn syrup for $8.50 a gallon."
Recently, New York Governor David Paterson proposed a penny-per-ounce excise tax on soda to help pay for health programs. An angry press statement issued by the soda industry's top lobbyist called the proposal a "money grab, pure and simple," and patronizingly reminded the Governor that New Yorkers "continue to struggle through a tough economy with double-digit unemployment rates." Yet the price difference (a "convenience tax" perhaps?) assessed by Coca-Cola on the 7.5-ounce cans is bigger than Paterson's proposed tax—about two or three cents per ounce.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).