Pepsi beats out Coke for five-year campus beverage deal

ISHMAEL N. DARO
Editor-in-Chief

At least it's not diet.

The tyrannical regime of Coca-Cola has fallen. The giant is dead! No more will we be slaves to a multinational behemoth with a dubious environmental and ethical track record.

Instead, a new faceless multinational corporation will fill the void.

On July 21, the University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors approved a five-year exclusive agreement with PepsiCo Beverages Canada to supply cold beverages to most of campus.

“The decision to choose another cold beverage supplier was not taken lightly,” said Richard Florizone, U of S vice-president of finance and resources.

Indeed, the seemingly trivial question of who gets to rot our teeth — Coke or Pepsi — was considered for more than a year by a special university committee that included representatives from Huskie Athletics, University Advancement and the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union, among others.

The committee considered offers from both Coke and Pepsi but ultimately settled on the latter, although the agreement reached is once again exclusive. So if you’re a Sprite fan — too bad! Get used to 7 Up.

There will be exceptions to the rule, such as Mac’s and Campus Cove who will still be able to sell what they want, but vending machines on campus will now feature only Pepsi products.

“When we entered into the exclusive agreement with Coke, it was fairly controversial,” said Florizone. “A lot of people on campus enjoyed… the financial support that came from the agreement, but there were questions raised about whether it was appropriate to enter into another exclusive contract.”

That contract, signed in 1998, lasted for 10 years and generated about $200,000 per year for the university. However, because sales weren’t high enough to fulfill the contract, it was extended in 2008 for another two years.

The new deal with Pepsi goes into effect Sept. 1, generating about $1.8 million over five years. It does not have any sales volume requirements. Profits will go toward student initiatives. USSU President Scott Hitchings said the students’ union and the Graduate Students’ Association will also see additional funding from the deal.

In addition to financial considerations, the beverage committee also looked at the environmental and ethical track records of the two companies.

“They were very conscious of that when they were making the decision,” said Hitchings.

Coca-Cola’s somewhat checkered history on these fronts has inspired the “Killer Coke” campaign to spread the word. There is even a Facebook page called “No To Coke Monopoly On The U of S Campus,” which, hopefully, will now stop spamming the Sheaf’s Facebook page.

Florizone acknowledged that “it is just soda pop,” but that the choice between beverage providers brings up many issues on which people have strong feelings.

“It involves a whole lot of other issues — ethical, environmental, financial — that actually make it quite an interesting and philosophical debate.”

Florizone declined to say whether he was a Coke or Pepsi drinker himself.

When asked why students should care about the change, Hitchings said “because you’re going to get Dr Pepper.”

“The bad thing is that you’re not going to get Barq’s,” Hitchings added, seemingly forgetting that no one drinks Barq’s.


graphic: Brianna Whitmore/The Sheaf