I tried to warn them 11 years ago, but no one listened to me then. Now, it’s happened.
Back when I first started covering the agriculture community in 2000, I had the chance to briefly connect with a few old co-workers of mine from my days covering the beverage game. Both of these former cohorts had ended up working for PepsiCo, the giant soft drink/snack food producer.
“What’s agriculture like?” one of them asked me.
“I’m told the market is slightly ahead of the curve vs. the rest of America,” I answered. “Whatever happens there tends to predict what will happen everywhere else within a few months or years.”
“What kind of soft drinks do they drink?” was the next question.
And I proceeded to tell my ex-co-workers that Pepsi products were very popular with the ag crowd – particularly Mountain Dew and Pepsi-Cola. However, I said that in my brief time covering ag-related events, I found one rival brand from Coca-Cola was always present – Diet Coke.
“I’ve actually never seen a Diet Pepsi at any of these events,” I noted.
My past co-workers both shook their heads and chuckled. “Probably you are just hanging out with the wrong crowd so far,” was their answer.
But it turns out that wasn’t the case. Last week, I read that as of 2010, Diet Coke is now the No. 2 best-selling soft drink brand in the country (trailing only flagship Coca-Cola). The former No. 2, Pepsi-Cola, has slipped to No. 3.
As it turns out, agriculture again has led the way for the rest of the U.S. After Mountain Dew (which seems to be the unofficial lifeblood for most custom applicators I’ve met), silver Diet Coke cans are the second most common beverages I’ve found in spray rig cabs. When I’ve asked, most custom applicators and ag retail representatives have simply answered: “I just like the taste better than other diet soft drinks.”
So to my old friends at Pepsi, sincere condolences on losing out to rival Coke. To my old friends at Coke, congratulations on having the two best-selling soft drinks in the county.
And to my current friends in ag retail, keep blazing the path that the rest of America will eventually end up following – no matter what the cause!