Jack Owoc, the CEO of Vital Pharmaceuticals/Bang Energy, announced that his company filed a lawsuit against beverage giant PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP) on Thursday.
In a statement, Owoc said Bang Energy is suing PepsiCo for allegedly failing to meet the terms of their exclusive distribution agreement.
His company is also accusing the beverage giant of unlawful business practices such as falsely representing its relationship with Bang Energy, which already legally terminated their partnership last month.
The Florida-based energy drinks company alleged that PepsiCo is misrepresenting itself to independent distributors and retailers that it is the exclusive distributor of Bang Energy.
Owoc said Bang Energy is “alleging that PepsiCo failed to meet contractual and joint business plan commitments and requirements under the distribution agreement.”
He added that “PepsiCo has engaged and continues to engage in gross misconduct. “Unfortunately, we were blindsided and bamboozled.”
Bang Energy accusing PepsiCo of practicing “intimidation tactics”
In the lawsuit, Bang Energy also claimed that the beverage giant is intimidating and “threatening” independent distributors and major retailers including Walmart (NYSE: WMT).
PepsiCo is allegedly telling independent distributors and retailers that they should exclusively purchase Bang Energy from it or else they will face lawsuits.
Furthermore, the energy drinks company claimed that the beverage giant “has repeatedly and intentionally sabotaged Bang Energy in the vast retail market.”
On October 23, Owoc/Vital Pharmaceuticals notified PepsiCo that it is terminating their partnership.
On November 17, they issued a press release stating that the beverage giant is fired and is no longer an exclusive distributor of Bang Energy.
Owoc also made it clear in a tweet that “Bang Energy has terminated the distribution contract with PepsiCo effective immediately.” In fact, he was responding to an article suggesting that “PepsiCo has years left on the deal” and the break-up is “unlikely to take effect right away.”
Owoc pointed out in his tweet, “Cognitive dissonance and fake news cannot alter reality.”
Bang Energy has terminated the distribution contract with PepsiCo effective immediately. Cognitive dissonance and fake news cannot alter reality. https://t.co/96AJSxt1Dk
— Jack Owoc (@BangEnergyCEO) November 17, 2020
That day, November 17, PepsiCo acknowledged that it has received the notice of termination from Vital Pharmaceuticals. However, it appears that the beverage giant was in denial of the fact that it has been fired.
“PepsiCo remains the exclusive distributor of Bang Energy drinks across the U.S. through October 2023. We will continue to fulfill our obligations under our agreement, which does not include any minimum purchase commitment. Serving our customers remains our top priority, while also defending and enforcing our exclusive rights granted in the agreement,” it said in a press release.
Based on its statement, it is highly likely that Bang Energy’s accusations against PepsiCo are true—that it is still representing itself as its exclusive distributor even if the energy drinks company already cut its partnership.
Bang Energy: a fast-growing and increasingly popular energy drinks brand
Bang Energy is a fast-growing energy drinks brand. It is becoming increasingly among young consumers who are health and nutrition-conscious. Bang Energy is emerging as a possible strong competitor to some of the leading energy drink brands such as Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy, which was acquired by PepsiCo for $3.85 billion.
Some market observers are speculating that PepsiCo probably failed to fulfill its commitments and promises to Bang Energy because of the Rockstar acquisition. There is a possibility that a conflict of interest has become a major concern for Owoc since the brands are competitors. No CEO would want his company to be on the sidelines especially when it has a great potential to become a market leader.
Is PepsiCo bothered by the fact that a small private energy drinks company has the audacity to break their business partnership? The beverage giant only knows the answer to that question.
One thing is clear, on Thursday Bang Energy sued PepsiCo and their exclusive distribution partnership “has been legally terminated” more than a month ago.
“Make no mistake – PepsiCo has been legally terminated! PepsiCo is no longer Bang Energy’s exclusive distributor. All retailers and third parties are legally free to purchase directly from Bang Energy and its extensive network of authorized distributors. Again, PepsiCo is no longer legally Bang Energy’s exclusive distributor,” said the energy drink company.
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