Is Coke Still It at McDonald’s?

By John Craven, BevNET Editor

The experiment is significant because it would provide in-store competition to fountain products manufactured by the Coca-Cola Co., which has been McDonald’s only source of soft drinks since 1955.

The coolers contain mostly Coke products, including its core lines of energy drinks, as well as Dr Pepper cans and bottles and AriZona brand iced teas. Under a plan being explored by McDonald’s, one cooler would be devoted to Coke brands, and another would contain popular brands from other manufacturers. Behind the counters, in addition to the fountain classics long sold by McDonald’s, bottles and cans of beverages are also being sold.

The move follows a major shift in beverage consumption patterns overall; more than three quarters of purchased beverages come in cans and bottles, rather than from a fountain.

Analysts say the move is a good one for McDonald’s for that reason, basically creating another reason for customers to come to the store. Even with competitors in the coolers, analysts say, it could also benefit Coke in the long run, as it opens stores to a variety of products that aren’t available via fountains, like Coke’s roster of energy drinks, its Powerade sports drink, and its new Gold Peak iced tea label.