EUGENE, Ore. — A Pepsi distributor would become the University of Oregon’s dominant soft drink supplier, and the school would get nearly $5 million in cash or discounts over the next eight years under a contract expected to be finalized soon.
The deal with Bigfoot Beverages was reported by the The Register-Guard reports through a records request. The paper said the competition between Pepsi and Coke for campus “pouring rights” has resulted in multimillion dollar contracts at UCLA and City University of New York.
The Oregon contract would give Pepsi products 80 percent of the soft drink cooler space on campus, boosting Pepsi’s presence and giving the boot to some locally bottled drinks.
Genesis Juice in Springfield and Kore Kombucha in Eugene said campus store officials told them their drinks will be dropped under the new contract.
“I’m just disappointed that the university is moving in the direction of less healthy choices for the students, particularly when you have great local options,” said Sheldon Rubin, marketing manager for Toby’s Family Foods, maker of Genesis Juice, a longtime local brand that is certified organic.
Pouring rights include 100 percent of campus soda fountain sales, 100 percent of drink and snack sales at 130 vending machines around campus, and 80 percent of cooler space at the university bookstore and about six other spots on campus.
It doesn’t cover pouring rights at the school’s athletic venues, such as Autzen Stadium, which are under a different contract.
For years, the university had separate contracts for fountain drinks and vending machines on campus. This is the first time the university is including bottled drink sales on campus, and wrapping the three sales channels into one mega-deal.
Coca-Cola’s bid for the Oregon contract was redacted in documents disclosed under the public records law. The school’s public records officer, Lisa Thornton, said the company considers the figures a trade secret, so the figure is exempt from disclosure.
Pepsi has had the campus fountain drinks contract for more than 20 years and the vending contract for at least 10 years, said Eric Forrest, co-president of Bigfoot Beverages.
“Being a locally owned, family-based business in the community we’d like to be affiliated with the University of Oregon,” he said. “From our standpoint we want to partner with people who are important partners with the community.”
For that reason, “college pouring rights are an important part of our business,” Forrest said. “But financially, (they) aren’t a substantial part of our business.”