Culture

Just Another Reason To Love AriZona Iced Tea: 30 Years Later, It’s Still 99 Cents — Here’s Why

We’re all feeling the current effects of inflation right about now, whether filling up your car with $5 gasoline, or paying hundreds of dollars in groceries that weren’t nearly as expensive last year.

While salaries are by and large the same, almost everything is pricier: animal products like meat and eggs have seen a 13.7% increase, fruits and vegetables are up 7%, electricity is up 11.1%, and rent is up 4.4% on average.

One product that won’t go up no matter how bad inflation gets? AriZona iced tea. 

With the highest U.S. inflation rate since 1981 that’s going on for much longer than even the Federal Reserve expected, at least we can all breathe a small sigh of relief that our favorite iced tea is committed to its famously low price.

The huge 23-ounce cans of AriZona iced tea have cost 99 cents since the brand first appeared on grocery and gas station shelves 30 years ago — and 70-year-old founder Don Vultaggio is “committed” to keeping that price the same despite inflation.

As reported by the L.A. Times, the only reason AriZona iced tea cans are still 99 cents is simple: the company accepted making less money than before.

This makes sense — aluminum prices have doubled in the last year and a half, gas prices make transport and delivery much more expensive nowadays, and the cost of high fructose corn syrup has gone up three-fold since 2000. There’s no doubt Arizona Beverages USA isn’t making as much money as before, but the Brooklyn-raised owner is holding on to that 99 cent price.

Vultaggio told the outlet, “consumers don’t need another price increase from a guy like me,” showing serious self-awareness for a man with a combined net worth of $4 billion with his sons Spencer and Wesley.

He explained, “I don’t want to do what the bread guys and the gas guys and everybody else are doing,” which as most of us have realized when buying groceries, is bringing prices way up to continue to make the same profits. 

AriZona’s founder started off in a very different position than today: a beer distributor in New York, he realized how many people were drinking Snapple as he ran from place to place. The idea for a new iced tea was born — and while Snapple has upped its prices from 99 cents to $1.79, AriZona is keeping its original price tag.

Owner Vultaggio started off as “a blue collar guy,” when “budgeting your finances on a daily basis was a part of life.” He counts that as a reason to protect lovers of his iced tea: “your customers have to deal with cost increases too… and if you break their back, nobody wins.”

Also, he says that the 99 cent price will always be “exciting.”

So how does AriZona continue to make profits? They’ve reduced the amount of aluminum in each can by 40% over time, uses its own New Jersey factory for much of what it produces, and even go for middle-of-the-night truck deliveries to avoid traffic (and as one can imagine, save money on expensive gas). They also aren’t big on “traditional advertising,” relying on their signature huge cans to do all the talking, and only employ 1,500 people companywide.

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