Remarkable Restraint

As I amble about in my fair city on my daily constitutional, I try to take in all my surroundings. I am very acutely aware of the thousands of delivery trucks abounding throughout NYC. Being a beverage-centric guy, I zero in on the vehicles with the bays. There are literally hundreds of Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Arizona, Snapple, UNFI, Maclane, Coremark, and all the independent trucks cruising the streets. The Big Geyser franchise and all the other local players are always in my line of sight. Often, they are double parked at the parking spot I’m situated in. I consider it my part in supporting the industry.

My observations also aren’t limited to the city. On my frequent visits in New Jersey, Connecticut, the Mid-Atlantic and New England, I see these trucks everywhere. They dot the landscape to deliver the beverages that make our industry go round. The efficiency of the systems is impressive. Whether they belong to DSD distributors or wholesalers, or even retailers, one thing is clear, they’re always out there. So I ponder, how can they afford the fuel costs?

While I am not the typical gas consumer, living in NYC, I still must fill my tank pretty often. My usual fill is between $50 and $60, about three times a month, almost always when I’ve crossed into Jersey. It certainly takes a bite out of my monthly budgeting. My Californian friends are being suffocated by the gas pricing. While that is an extreme example, the prices are causing suffering to everyone, everywhere.  I heard on the news last night that gas has gone up over $0.40 a gallon over the last month; it’s simply outrageous.

I write this column to ask how beverage marketers, distributors and wholesalers, and even the retailers are able to absorb these obscene increases. The margins in this industry are tight enough, and adding these extraordinary costs to their way of doing business must be hurting them badly. So I must give a well- deserved shout out to all that take it silently, and never try to pass these costs on to the customer. We’re in a tough economic environment, and it would be easy and fair to pass some of these fuel increases onto the consumer, but the industry bites the bullet on this one. Whether the motivation is altruism or preservation, it is the right decision.

Fuel cost is a major deterrent to our national recovery. I see and hear how it impacts our beverage universe. Yet, there are no clear answers or policies to address the spike and no coherent way to bring it down. You’re all taking one for the team, and I admire that.