BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pepsi is packing up production after deciding to stop making soda in Baltimore City, and they’re blaming the new city beverage tax.

Kelly McPherson explains the decision also puts dozens of people out of work.

Pepsi will continue to transport products in and out of Hampden but no longer will carbonated beverages be made there.  Seventy-five workers have lost their jobs.  Pepsi says it’s the economic climate—and something else.

“In the case of Baltimore, as you may know, there was a beverage tax that was passed here and in this case, it did not help in the decision in terms of keeping the Baltimore plant open,” said Pepsi spokesperson Mark Dollins.

The two-cent per container tax created a fiery debate six months ago, prompting expensive lobbying from beverage companies, city unions and grocers. 

The mayor’s office says Pepsi threatened job cuts before the tax was enacted.

“Meeting with Pepsi-Cola several months ago, they explained the economics of their operation here in Baltimore and it didn’t look good at that time,” said Ryan O’Doherty, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s spokesperson.

The bottle tax passed to help balance the city’s budget, but it expires in three years.  The mayor’s office says it’s not off the table to extend the tax or to raise it from two cents a can to four cents a can.

City officials say they had no opportunity to convince Pepsi to stay.

“I’m just shocked that they’re pulling out and I asked them if there was anything we could do at the city level with Baltimore Development Corporation and try to offer some kind of incentive and they said it was too far down the line,” said City Council President Jack Young.

The bottle tax is paid by distributors like Pepsi.  Grocers have reported this month that sales are down in the city because nearby counties do not have the tax.

There were 320 Pepsi jobs in distribution and sales not affected by Monday’s announcement.

Comments (50)
  1. Theon Ineteligence Iz West says:

    do you guys no that “the people “will go crazy when there is no pepsi in baltimore ooooo boy!

    1. Thomas McGuire says:

      Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake your 2cent bottle tax has cost 75 people their jobs at Pepsi, and i bet the distribution side isn’t far behind in leaving Baltimore.costing another 320 jobs. In trying to defend yourself you state that Pepsi was leaving anyway because of economics. Like all politicians you are full of it, say anything to make yourself seem right in the situation. People are sick and tired of all the lies. Will there ever be a politician who is truly for the people and not themselves?

      1. Tee Gee says:

        i agree totally.

  2. joseph bealefeld says:

    The thing that hurts the most is those poor people are lose there jobs!!! And all the city does is charge more!! Just not right.

  3. CityDweller says:

    Get real people…Pepsi is not closing down soley because of a bottle tax. It only amounts to 12 to 48 cents per package! People spend more than that on a pack of gum. And do you really think someone is spending $3+ dollars or more to drive out of the city while doing grocery shopping to go to the county to buy a six pack of soda in the county!?

    If they really want to increase revenue, I think the city should be allowed to increase taxes on it’s water services for all non-city areas that it services. That would help with water conservation efforts and it would bring in revenue from a commodity that everyone needs.

    1. Jack Lee says:

      You get real. Taxes chase companies away, hello. hello, hello.

      1. Rod says:

        You got that right, Jack. The city p-ed them off and now they’re leaving. Wave goodbye to those jobs.

      2. christine says:

        to rod how would you feel if you lost your job or better yet got laid off how would you feel answer that wave goodbye to you buddy.

    2. baltobikeboi says:

      thank-you – it’s like Pepsi went and in six months all tits up because of this tax – would you other people get a grip. f-em. coke tastes better anyways.

      1. christine says:

        first of all coke isnt all that good. i hope that one day they take away coke a cola and see how that feels to you ok baltobikeboi. leave pespi alone that why coke a cola has drugs in it hahahahahahahahaha. if you got a problem deal with it and get over yourself you get a grip.

      2. John Bluementhal says:

        I hear That!

    3. no tax for politicans says:

      hey city dweller if you want to pay more for water speak for yourself better yet pay for mine they charge enough for it.

      1. City Dweller says:

        I already pay more for water…they added a fee to raise money to start replacing the 100+ year old infra structure. I’m all for paying for something that will benifit us all with beter more reliable water transport. What I meant with the fee increase is that Baltimore purchased the land to create all the resevoirs that provide water for all of Baltimore City, and MANY of the surrounding counties. – you know the one’s with the sprawl problem and unsmart planning?! If the city could levy a fee to all of these users — businesses and private — they we could raise enough additional revenue that tax increases wouldn’t be needed. And hey, doesn’t that fit your paradigm of smart business?

    4. CountyDweller says:

      Yeah charge the county more for the “City’s Water” which sits in the reservoir in the county next to my house. You get real.

      1. Brian Weaver says:

        I was about to write something about it! From what I understood Loch Raven Reservoir is in Baltimore county.

      2. City Dweller says:

        Ummmm…can you guys read at all? I’ve visited all three resevoirs – EACH is owned in FULL by Baltimore City. The land, facilities – EVERYTHING is BALTIMORE’s. Need proof, google it, or take the drive and read the signs! I know it fits your mindset that everything is the city’s fault, but chances are if you live in Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Anne Arundel counties you may be drinking water that Baltimore provides. See the residents of those areas didn’t see into the future and think…hey if we build it and they come in bunches what are they going to drink? Wake up and read a book or two – you may learn something….

    5. Rhonda says:

      I think the city should be allowed to increase taxes on it’s water services for all non-city areas that it services <—– excellent idea! I live in AA County and my water bill has never been under $140 quarterly and that I consider wonderful. My moms on the other hand living in Balt.County pays a mere $45. quarterly. – But I think the tax on soda is ill advised. If the revenue is so little to matter than why invoke it?

    6. Brian says:

      The bottle tax is paid by distributors like Pepsi.

      1. City Dweller says:

        And? Check out my post under Bmore Resident to see what Pepsi makes from this facility. Also, re-read the article to see that 75 union people are being laid off and that 300+ people will still be employed. If you’ve ever worked for a union job, I’m more than certain you’ll understand what Pepsi may REALLY be doing with its “tar related” layoffs. Blame the city and cut you staff without a peep from the union! lol

    7. david says:

      You are a complete idiot.

  4. jcbarsch says:

    the city has been chasing manufactures out of the city since sthe 60;

  5. tony toni says:

    and UMBC cancels contract with coca cola in favor of pepsi…and against the students’ will…….then pepsi does this to our city….eff UMBC and Hrabrowski….or whatever his name is

  6. Badger boy says:

    It’s time to learn the lesson — People in Baltimore don’t get much for all the taxes that they pay. It’s too easy for folks to go to Pa., Del., or Va. to get things at lower prices.

  7. MMcHone says:

    Stop paying the ex-mayor pension, that done absolutely nothing for Baltimore, Her $80,000 a yr, (and I am sure there is a lot more waste of tax payers money going on that would shock us all.) and they would not have to worry about any budget deficit.

  8. save the jobs says:

    hey if pepsi really looked hard I bet they could find some property in Baltimore Co that they could get and still keep the plant and jobs for people and stay local, and Baltimore Co would probably give them an incentive to open here, on the east side is a alot of industrial area that is just waiting for a tennant

    1. DonnaT says:

      What A Brilliant Idea! I know a excellent property management co. that I bet could make that happen.
      Hey Pepsi, are you listening???

  9. DonnaT says:

    Lets be real people…if our city officials knew that imposing a 2 cent tax would make or break a large contributor like pepsi then they are partially to blame for our losing even more revenue. So So sad for the workers who are now out of work.
    As for pensions??? Let’s just continue to pay an osted crook even though we know she stole and belittled our fine citizens. I guesst she didn’t steal enough from our city residents and the needy! Shame on her and the judicial system for making us pay even more!

  10. shawna 3 says:

    The 2 cent tax hike is a joke. If the local and state politicians would take a little money out of there wealthy pockets to contribute then maybe the people loosing their job could keep them. We all know that these local, and state workers make a bundle of our tax money so why shouldn’t they have to give back. Pepso closing is making all of them go on unemployment which I thought that is what we are trying not to do. So to all the state and local goverment workers take some money out of ur pocket and give back to help stop this or take away Shiela Dixons pension and her 80, 000 a year and give it to people who need it and not to someione who steals from the city.Why should that crook still get her money when she stole from the city of Baltimore? Pepsi needs to stay and make the state officials pay that tax and keep MD working

  11. Faith Michelle Zile says:

    they tax soda but the beer and wine are not taxed.They should tax it and add that taxes to stop DUI’s. That may save a life in the city.

  12. marilyn brown says:

    I am sorry to hear that pepsi will stop making soda here that pepsi sign was a familiar sight on the highway i never thought i would see this day i guess that beverage tax was not such a great idea after all

  13. Brian says:

    These darn politicians are full of it I agree. And yes they need to raise the tax on DEVIL JUOCE. A.K.A. “beer and wine” it will reduce the alcoholis driving on the road killing innocent ppl. And Coke sucks btw. They’re disgusting.

    1. Sweetiepi says:

      The more the city taxes, the more the people in Baltimore will get what they need from neighboring counties. So disposable income will not be staying in Baltimore even if it is made in Baltimore.

  14. Jeff says:

    What is Pepsi getting in a hiffy fit about over the 2 cent tax? They don’t even pay it as the maker. The people that purchase the soda pay the 2cent tax, not Pepsi. If the store pays the tax, then they just pass the cost off to the consumer. Do you see any less people drinking soda in the city? I don’t. I’m not saying I agree with the 2cent tax, so people don’t jump on my back. I’m just saying that Pepsi is using this as a easy scapegoat to cut jobs. When a 2 cent tax goes into effect, people go nuts, but when Pepsi increases the price of their product by 10 cents to increase profits. No one even blinks. Big corporations such as Pepsi get millions in tax breaks as it is, so don’t go crying for them. Instead cry for the 75 people that will lose their jobs as the company still rakes in massive profits.

  15. Jeff says:

    Another thing that doesn’t make any sense. They are still going to be bringing product into the hampden location to use to supply the stores they stock. Nothing is changing except that they are going to stop “MAKING” soda in Hampden. The tax isn’t on making soda, it’s on the sale of the soda. I hope somone on this site can at least see that they used this to cut 75 jobs. They are still stocking the city with soda from the Hampden location, they just aren’t making it there anymore which isn’t affected by the tax at all. They make it somewhere else where they already have production and ship it in to this location for sale. Again, they don’t even pay the tax, the consumer does. Just a diversion so they can streamline the process and cut jobs from the mix.

  16. Sweetiepi says:

    Well City Hall nor the Mayor should be shocked and more companies will eventually leave the city that bleeds.

  17. JCW says:

    Well said Jeff- About time someone else knows Pepsi is cutting back and streamlinning and consolidating its operations like all other companies. The tax which has nothing to do with production, distribution nor a burden of collecting, is an excuse to shut down production and the gullible believe thier story. They will most likley shut down distribution from that location as well before too long.

  18. NOW UNEMPLOYED says:

    The tax had nothing to do with Pepsi shutting down Production in the Baltimore plant. It was done because the the cost per-case to produce at the plant and transportation cost were higher then at the other plants. Because of that the Plant went from a 31 million case per year plant 8 years ago to a 9 million case plant. volume was sourced to more productive lower cost plants over the last few years. That being said the only thing that had changed in the Plant over the last few years was the management the Personal in production had from 10 years to 40 years in seniority. They continued to bring in inexperienced management changing them every 2 to 3 years never promoting from within.
    NOW YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    P.S. The tax had nothing to do with it!


    On these comments, only “ Jeff” and “Now Unemployed” seem to have some understanding about what’s going on. I opposed the city plans to have a soda /bottle tax, I protested at City Hall along with Pepsi, to stop it. But if anyone for a second believes the tax had anything to do with the Company stopping production at the Baltimore facility, I have some swamp land in Iceland to sell you!!!!. The Company has recently stop production in other locations and will continue to do so, to make its bottom line look better, especially since its merger with PepsiCo. It is sad how narrow people’s views can become. Stop believing everything you see on TV or read in the press. The concern should be for the employees that are loosing their jobs in this economic environment. My heart goes out to them.

  20. Chuck D says:

    John Galt would be so proud! You go, Pepsi!

  21. APW says:

    Wonder what they are doing with the plant and equipment? I’d like to buy it from them and re-employ all the people, make a better, healthier product, motivate the workforce and put coke put of business. That’s just to start. Maybe the local govt will help me to invest so we can re-employ. This will help the unemployment numbers and we continue to pay lots of Tax! But alas – this govt helps no-one.

  22. says:

    Sad news – remember when one door closes, another opens.

  23. BMore Resident says:

    Look, Pepsi is not leaving the city, they are just eliminating the creation of drinking products for this location. Only 75 jobs will be lost…not the others that factor into the distribution operations that will still continue. A lot of this info is in the article. If they chose to frame it that the tax is the reason, so be it, but no logical can believe the 12 cents bottle tax is the sole reason. Cheeck out this info listed for PepsiCo Baltimore:

    “Pepsi Bottling Group is a private company categorized under Bottlers and located in Baltimore, MD. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $100 to 500 million and employs a staff of approximately 500 to 999” (Manta @

    Without a doubt they can afford the tax based on these numbers. But if you’re not interested in the truth, just what a PR rep puts out or persons trying to support some political agenda, then accept what “they say”. Change comes as a result of an involved and informed public interested in things other than their own back pocket.

  24. Zac says:

    Once again people read something and only see what they want. If you want to make a change then look into your politicians. The fact that pepsi is blaming baltimore is just a scape goat. They can afford the 2 cents per bottle and im sure no one notices it. The average person spends $12 to $20 on junk. Lets face it, you will still have your pepsi. Stop complaining and do something. Research who represents you in the city.

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