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By The Auxiliary Services Team

Ever wondered why you cannot buy a Dr Pepper or Pepsi anywhere on the University of Houston campus? There is a simple explanation for that.

Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages LLC has a sponsorship/pouring rights/cold beverage vending agreement with UH to be the exclusive provider of cold beverages for the campus, as well as all of the component universities within the UH System.

Coca-Cola Southwest BeveragesThe 10-year contract went into effect May 1, 2010 and will continue through April 30, 2020. The agreement is a detailed document – 152 pages in length – that provides a thorough overview of what is expected of both Coca-Cola and the University. As one would expect from such a large, exhaustive document, the details are far too many to provide them all here. But we’ll give it our best shot to summarize what it does and does not cover. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.

Coca-Cola vending machinesSo what specifically does this exclusive agreement cover? For one, all of the vending machines that provide cold drinks anywhere on campus and the other UH System components are owned and stocked by Coca-Cola. These machines – which number 114 – serve a wide variety of soft drinks, waters, teas and energy drinks, but they all have one thing in common: they are all Coca-Cola owned products.

In addition, the two residential dining facilities on campus – Fresh Food Company in Moody Towers and Cougar Woods Dining Hall – fall under the scope of the contract. So do the Cougar Xpress Markets, as well as the many retail dining locations that serve the campus community. In other words, all of these locations are obligated to provide only Coca-Cola related products.

There are certain exceptions that are specifically spelled out in the agreement. For example, Chick-Fil-A is allowed to sell its lemonade fountain beverages. Starbucks has a list of cold drinks it can offer, including fresh-brewed cold coffee and tea. Tealicious is also allowed to serve freshly brewed teas and cold coffees. There are also certain niches of beverages which Coca-Cola does not offer their own product. In these scenarios, other companies’ products are allowed for sale. This has included milk products that are sold in the campus convenience stores. Coca-Cola, however, will be coming out with a line of chocolate and strawberry milk products. When that does happen, Coke would have the exclusive right to sell those products at UH.

The contract only covers cold beverages. As such, Coca-Cola does not have exclusive rights for hot beverages, such as coffee and hot chocolate. In fact, there are three vending machines on campus that offer coffee and hot chocolate. Those are owned by Canteen – which is contracted with UH to provide and stock all the other vending machines on campus that do not provide cold beverages.

So what are the benefits to the University from having this agreement with Coca-Cola?

The contract stipulates that Coca-Cola will pay UH a certain amount of money annually over the course of the 10 years. In addition, the University receives a commission based on a certain percentage of sales. As detailed in the agreement, Coke also has provided the University with $100,000 for scholarships.

The company also gives UH in-kind support, such as cases of Coke-related products to be used for different events. Student groups, for example, can request from Auxiliary Services a donation of Coke-related products to be given away at an event they may be holding on campus. This program has specific guidelines, such as groups must be registered student organizations, the event has to be free to the public, donated products must be given away and not sold. The request form is available on the Vending Services website.

Most of the contract is managed by the Auxiliary Services Department. However, there is a component to the agreement that directly benefits UH Athletics, which manages that portion of it. Coke provides various forms of in-kind support to Athletics, all of which is specifically outlined in the agreement. That includes beverage, marketing and sponsorship support.

UH groups who are holding internal events not open to the public are not obligated to provide Coca-Cola products. But public events and activities held on campus must abide by the contract. The Auxiliary Services Department can answer any questions or clear up any confusion UH groups and departments may have about the sponsorship/pouring rights/cold beverage vending agreement with Coca-Cola. Our phone number is 832-842-9053. Our email address is We are more than happy to help.


posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2017