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Coke Cites Pressure from Wal-Mart in Court Filing

ATLANTA -- The Coca-Cola Co. here implied in a court filing that Wal-Mart used its size and market power to pressure the soft drink supplier to switch its delivery terms.

Wal-Mart reportedly asked Coke to deliver its Powerade sports drink through Wal-Mart's warehouses rather than through the companyís bottler system. The retailer said it would double its purchases of Powerade if the soft drink provider complied, and also threatened that it could launch its own private label sports drink, according to Coke.

Coke's comments came in a June 1 response to a federal lawsuit filed by a group of bottlers who are challenging Coke's distribution of Powerade to Wal-Mart stores through Wal-Mart's warehouses.

The bottlers claim that an agreement negotiated in 1994 between the bottlers and the company prohibits warehouse delivery of Powerade to major retailers.

Coca-Cola says the Powerade contract allows a bottler to choose warehouse delivery within its own territory.
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