Brandon Thomas, a spokesman for Carolina Dining Services, said all soda fountains on campus operated by the group serve Pepsi products only. Convenience stores on campus, including Blue Ram and the Pit Stop, are obligated to use 80 percent of their beverage shelf space on Pepsi products, while the remaining 20 percent can be used on other brands.
“We get some complaints because we don’t carry more different items,” said Ron Wood, manager of the Pit Stop. “Not many complaints, but some people will ask, ‘Why don’t you carry this or that?’”
Wood said it’s important to keep in mind that UNC carries more varied drinks than its peer institutions.
“We’re very fortunate to have the other 20 percent,” Wood said. “Other campuses can’t carry other products.”
Thomas said offering students a choice was intentional.
“They’re popular beverages, and we wanted students to have a choice,” Thomas said. “I will say that Pepsi supports the campus in other ways. For example, they pay $200,000 each year that goes toward financial aid. That’s part of the contract.”
Thomas said the decision to carry Pepsi products was made for financial reasons.
“In short, they cut a better deal than Coke,” Thomas said. “We did award the contract to Pepsi in terms of what they could offer, the best services, in terms of things like that.”
Jessica Webster, a cashier at Blue Ram, said the store’s Coke shelves need to be restocked far more often than the store’s Pepsi shelves.
“We have one cooler for Coke and four for Pepsi,” Webster said. “We refill the Cokes more because there’s less space for them, which leads me to believe we sell more Coke products. We do spend all day stocking Coca-Cola products. It gets bad.”
On the other hand, Coke sponsors Carolina Athletics, so Coke is the only brand of drinks served at athletic events. According to Rick Steinbacher, UNC’s senior associate athletic director for external communications, this contract allows UNC to get revenue in two ways: through both sponsorship fees and from a cut of concession sales.
“Coke has been served in Kenan Stadium as long as soft drinks have been served in Kenan Stadium,” Steinbacher said. “The revenue that we get for athletics goes to our general revenue line, which is what funds our sports programs and teams. That’s part of the revenue that we count on to fund our overall operations.”