24-ounce bottles: a new option?
Gilbert was one of several vendors who wondered about switching to 24-ounce bottles, which he said cost less than 20-ounce products. This would require retrofitting machines with shims. "If it (24-ounce) gets pulled out of the club stores, we've got a whole bunch of machines configured with shims for 24-ounce and we can't get the product," he said.
Many operators regret seeing 24-ounce bottles priced lower in some retail outlets than what vending operators are charging for 20-ounce bottles. This makes consumers think that vending operators are overcharging.
Some operators are considering retrofitting machines to carry 16.9-ounce bottles, which are also available at club stores.
Several operators interviewed noted that club stores have also raised prices. Peggy Mayhew, president, Apollo Vending Co., Inc., Irondale, Ala., said she will have to raise can prices a nickel to 55 cents to accommodate the increase.
Bag-in-the box pricing also rises
The increase impacts bag-in-the-box as well. Loose Ends Vending, based in Batavia, N.Y., still operates some cup soda machines, noted Bill Wassink, vice president of operations. He said the cost for the bag-in-the-box product jumped more this year than in previous years, despite the fact that the company's owners also own a bottling company and it is a Canteen franchise.
The pricing situation will encourage vending operators to seek alternative sources for secondary items. In the meantime, operators will have no choice but to raise their prices.