Costco will resume carrying Coca-Cola products

AP News
Posted: Dec 10, 2009 11:53 AM

Coca-Cola Co. products will soon be available again in Costco stores now that a pricing dispute with the wholesale club operator has been settled.

Spokesman Scott Williamson said Thursday that new Coke products should be sent to Costco stores soon, though he declined to be more specific.

Coke will be back on shelves around Monday, Costco CFO Richard Galanti told investors during the company's earnings conference call Thursday. He did not want to comment further on the matter.

Last month, Costco decided not to order any more products made by the Atlanta-based company until the squabble was resolved. The retailer made the dispute unusually public, posting messages in stores nationwide and online telling shoppers its reasons. But now it has been resolved, Galanti said.

"Our signs basically said it all _ until we can provide our members with these products at competitive prices and provide our members with value, we are not prepared to sell it and we are now going to sell it," he said.

The public squabble between the wholesale-club operator and Coca-Cola revealed real tensions as retailers and product makers square off on prices.

As shoppers continue to look to save money in the recession, retailers want to keep them shopping by giving them low prices.

But product makers like Coca-Cola want to maintain their profits, so they don't want to cut prices.

These types of disputes happen regularly between retailers and product makers, but they're not typically known to the public, said John Sicher, editor of trade publication Beverage Digest.

"Certainly what was unusual was Costco making it as visible as they did on their Web site," he said.

Costco, which is based in Issaquah, Wash., did not remove Coca-Cola products from its shelves, but it did not reorder them during the three-week dispute. Sicher said it was likely that given how quickly soft drink products move off shelves, it's likely that some were out of stock for at least a short time.


AP Food Industry Writer Sarah Skidmore contributed to this report from Portland, Ore.