site logo

Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Education

Soft Drink Sales in Schools

Incentives for Schools


reference

vending machineIn return for giving a beverage manufacturer exclusive access to children at a particular school (pouring rights), the school gets a percentage of sales and sometimes extras such as signing bonuses, equipment, scholarships and internships. Coca-Cola and Pepsi both offer this sort of deal in return for installing their vending machines into schools. Often schools are given a financial incentive to sell as much soft drink as they can so that the schools actively promote soft-drink consumption. reference

In one well-publicised example in 1998, a Colorado school district official sent a letter to schools instructing principals to let students have free access to Coca-Cola vending machines all day and even to let students drink Coca-Cola in class, in order for the district to receive a bonus payment for the sale of 70,000 cases of Coke in a year.

reference

In another school district the contract required the school to sell the equivalent of 1.6 cans of Coke per pupil every day for ten years.

back to top

Incentives for Beverage Industry

reference

In 1999 it was noted in Beverage Industry magazine that it was important to get elementary school children drinking soft drinks because at that age they “are still establishing their tastes and habits”. By 2001 soft drinks, or soda, had “become a staple food for American children” with teenage males drinking more than two 20 oz cans per day.

Health Consequences

reference

This increased consumption of soft drinks not only raised the incidence of obesity but, vending machinesbecause it often replaced milk, increased the incidence of osteoporosis and bone fractures as a result of low levels of calcium; increased the incidence of dental cavities because of the acidity of the drinks; and increased classroom behavioural problems because of the caffeine in cola drinks. The money gained by schools for these contracts is therefore at the expense of the long-term health of the school children.

back to top

Some Statistics


US reference vending machines75 percent of high schools have exclusive agreements with beverage companies for vending machines.

reference A Public Health Institute survey of Californian schools found 276 vending machines in the 19 schools it visited. These machines were located in areas frequently trafficked by students such as cafeterias and courtyards.
Canada reference 56 percent of high schools have exclusive agreement with soft drink manufacturers.
UK reference Vending machines selling soft drinks, crisps and sweets can earn English schools the equivalent of two teachers’ salaries.

reference Branded vending machines have been banned in Scotland and Wales.

back to top

Industry Opposition to Regulation

reference

vending machine Legislation to stop in-school marketing of junk foods has been resisted in the US for several years now. Coca-Cola hired Holland & Knight to lobby against the federal Better Nutrition for School Children Act of 2001 which would have prevented soft drinks from being sold or provided as part of school lunches.

reference

As opposition to pouring rights contracts grew in the US in 2003, Coca-Cola became a sponsor of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

reference

In 2001 the Captive Audience/Stop Commercialism in Schools Act was defeated in Maryland after school administrators, who wanted the money that came from commercialisation, joined with vending machine lobbyists and other companies with vested interests, to oppose the measure. It was defeated the day after Coca-Cola announced a commitment to scale back on its marketing in public schools.

reference

Further efforts to legislate against junk food in schools were defeated by Coca-Cola and other junk food lobbyists in Connecticut, Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon during 2005.

reference

By 2006 38 states were trying to bring in legislation to regulate food in schools, and particularly vending machines and 14 states had passed such laws. Beverage companies were also under threat of legal action by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for promoting and selling unhealthy products in schools.

reference

Consequently, in 2006 Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes, which “control more than 90 percent of school sales” announced that they would phase out sweetened drinks from schools and eventually only sell bottled water, low-fat milk and pure fruit juice in elementary schools, with the addition of diet sodas and sport-drinks in middle and high schools.

reference

Similar voluntary agreements were made in Canada and NSW, Australia in 2004 in the wake of government efforts to ban them, although in these cases, soft drinks would still be sold in high schools.

reference

Such agreements allow the companies to continue promoting their brand. Winning brand loyalty from a new generation is more important to soft drink companies than actual school sales, which make up less than one percent of total sales in North America.

reference

Moreover, schools trying to get out of contracts with these soft drink companies are finding it too expensive because of contract penalty clauses effectively rendering the voluntary industry agreement ineffective for the term of their contracts which can be up to ten years.

back to top

Links


NEW! Contributers' Updates and Examples

If you have any examples or updates you would like to contribute please email them to me and I will add them here. Please give references for where you sourced the information.