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Costco Nixes Coke Products Over Pricing Dispute


ATLANTA (AP) ¿ Costco customers may have to look elsewhere for Coca-Cola products now that the retailer has stopped carrying them because the pair are fighting over prices.

The public squabble between one of the nation's largest wholesale club operators and the world's largest soft drink maker is likely to fizzle quickly. But it reveals real tensions as retailers and product makers square off on prices.

As shoppers continue to grapple with the recession, retailers want to win their favor by giving them low prices. But that has been creating tension between product makers like Coca-Cola Co., who are working hard to maintain profit margins while meeting retailer demands.

Typically such negotiations take place behind the scenes, but once in awhile, a public dispute erupts.

"Beneath this surface of harmony, it's a dogfight out there," Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, said Tuesday at an investor meeting held by the soft drink maker at its hometown of Atlanta.

Retailers want to wield more power in determining pricing with product makers, who they depend on to stock their customers' favorite brands, Khermouch said.
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