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Kent Campus Switches to Pepsi

Posted July 18, 2011 | Emily Vincent

Recent taste tests revealed that Pepsi products were favored more often by students.

Employees and students will notice a change on the Kent Campus. New vending machines, signage and beverages will be put in place as the campus makes the switch to Pepsi-Cola products.

As it was nearing the end of its 10-year contract with Coca-Cola, the university sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to explore the best option for a beverage provider for the Kent Campus. A committee was formed, and in the end, Pepsi was selected.

A key factor in deciding which beverage provider to choose was getting input from Kent State students as to which drinks they preferred based on taste. Richard Roldan with Dining Services held taste tests with students during Destination Kent State. The Pepsi products were favored more often by the students.

“In surveying our students, we found out that the number one product is Mountain Dew, which is a Pepsi product,” said Greg Jarvie, the university’s vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “We’re excited to work with Pepsi and to bring what students like to Kent State University.”

Pepsi-Cola products include much more than Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. They include popular brands such as Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Gatorade, Aquafina, Lipton, Ocean Spray, Orange Crush, SoBe Lifewater and Tropicana. Additional products include AMP Energy, Frappuccino Bottled Coffee Drinks from Starbucks Coffee Company, IZZE Sparking Juices, Muscle Milk, Naked Juice, Propel and Tazo Teas.

“There also is a Mirinda, a Spanish soft drink, that I’m excited we’ll have for our international students,” says Steve Storck, Kent State’s senior associate vice president for finance and administration.

Another factor in the decision was cost. “We wanted to keep the cost of the product as low as we could for students, so product pricing was very important,” Storck said.

Pepsi also offered a recycling program that appealed to the selection committee. “Kent State has been increasing our sustainability efforts, and we thought Pepsi did a better job when we considered this,” Storck said. “We really liked Pepsi’s Dream Machine concept, which is a rewards-based recycling program. Students, as well as employees, can earn points when they recycle their Pepsi cans and bottles and then redeem those points for prizes and discounts.”

Storck says that the plan is to have Pepsi fully operational for the start of the Fall 2011 Semester. “We anticipate it will be a six-week transition period to change out all of the vending machines, fountain products and signage,” he says. “This involves all of the food service operations on campus and at the stadium.” The agreement with Pepsi is for five years.

For loyal Coke drinkers like Gregg Floyd, Kent State’s vice president for finance and administration, he knows he can bring cans of Diet Coke in with him to work or buy them off-campus. “This is the second time I’ve been at a university that switched from Coke to Pepsi,” Floyd says. “Pepsi came through with a better offer, so I’ll adjust like I did the last time.”