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Coke Pepsi

Pepsi and Coke Pricing Investigated by FTC Probe: Report

Jan. 10, 2023
The Federal Trade Commission may allege the two beverage companies charged big retailers less than they charged small retailers.

Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo reportedly are under preliminary investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over potential price discrimination in the soft drink market.

The FTC apparently is investigating on the basis of the Robinson-Patman Act, a law that prohibits suppliers from offering lower prices to large retailers than those charged their smaller competitors, according to an exclusive story in Politico. The news medium called it “an obscure law” and “largely dormant 1936 law is aimed at promoting a level playing field between small retailers and large chain stores.”

Citing “four people with knowledge of the probe,” Politico said the FTC has asked large retailers, including Walmart, for data and other information on how they purchase and price soft drinks – although Walmart is not a target in the investigation, one of the informants said.

“The new investigation is the latest sign that the Biden administration is expanding its efforts to rein in big companies and flex its antitrust muscles, and not just in the technology world,” Politico wrote. “Under Lina Khan, the FTC has reached deep into the antitrust playbook, dusting off long quiescent laws in the hopes of curtailing the growth of the world’s biggest firms, from relative newcomers like Apple and Google, and now to more traditional Fortune 500 stalwarts like Pepsi and Coke.”

The report noted the Robinson-Patman Act has not been enforced regularly for decades, the last case being a 2000 settlement with spice company McCormick & Co.

The investigation is in the early stages, Politico reported, while also carrying a denial of any wrongdoing from a Coca-Cola spokesperson.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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