Nobody needs a headline to know prices are up. It’s obvious with pretty much everything involving price tags and supply chains, including the ready-to-drink iced tea market. While prices for other major products in the beverage aisle are up across the board, per the Los Angeles Times, there remains one notable exception: AriZona Iced Tea. The company’s 23-ounce core product is still only 99 cents, and it’s been that way for 30 years. “I’m committed to that 99-cent price—when things go against you, you tighten your belt,” company founder and Brooklyn native Don Vultaggio said. He’s making less per can, but he sells a billion cans per year in a crowded market where other major brands like Lipton and Snapple are all owned by global giants. Rival brands cost roughly twice the price.
Vultaggio and family now rank a comfortable 764th in Forbes' billionaire rankings, and their independence gives them flexibility on how to handle pricing. Coke still holds the record for longest-fixed drink price: 5 cents a bottle for 70 years, until 1959 when it finally broke “the nickel’s spell.” Coke was hemmed in by business contracts and its self-made infrastructure of vending machines that only took nickels. For AriZona, the famous "psychological effect" of the number 9 itself could be a factor; according to one economist, retailers with fixed prices that end in 9 “are more resistant to change across the market” during inflationary cycles. But Vultaggio has his own explanation: “It’s been like that since cavemen, the 99-cent price point was exciting then, and it’s exciting today.” Read the full story. (Read more inflation stories.)