In Arctic Bay, Nunavut, precious pop sells online for stomach-churning prices
'It's worth it. I love drinking pop,' says man who paid $35 for 3 cans
As the supply of soft drinks slowed to a trickle recently in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, some residents of the community sold off cans and bottles at outrageous prices on Facebook.
One seller recently held an auction for one 355 ml can and two 500 ml bottles of Coke and Sprite. Final price: $52.
"It's worth it," said 16-year-old Phillip Tatatuapik, whose $50 bid narrowly missed out on the lot.
"There's no pop in the stores. I love drinking pop."
Tatatuapik eventually won another auction, paying $35 for three 355 ml cans of Coke. But he said he's prepared to go as high as $60.
Sometimes, he said, he trades cigarettes for a can of pop.
How it gets this way
Most retailers in remote Nunavut communities stock up on non-perishables during the summer open-water shipping season. But they often run dry on some soft-drink brands by spring, when winter stockpiles have dwindled and the next sealift is still months away.
While some stores do fly pop in during this transition period, sugary drinks are not covered under the federal government's Nutrition North program, which means healthier foods take priority during weekly cargo flights.
Pop is also heavy to transport, so every odd week, the pop supply simply doesn't make it.
When a shipment does come in, popular brands like Coke and Pepsi fly off the shelves within a day or two, going for $5.79 per can — twice as much as what it costs in the winter when the stores are selling their sealift stock.
The Government of Nunavut partners on a program aimed at cutting down on sugary drinks in schools; the Department of Health refused to comment on the pop auctions in Arctic Bay.
'It costs a lot more than gasoline'
Arctic Bay resident Lionel Willie doesn't drink pop himself but has held two high-priced auctions, starting the bidding at $15.
"I'm sure they're addicted to the sugar rush or something," he said of his customers.
"I am surprised [at how high the bids have gone]. That's pretty expensive. It costs a lot more than gasoline."
Both Willie and Tatatuapik say the highest they've seen anyone pay for pop was upward of $150 for a 12-pack.
Those would normally sell at a store for just under $70.
with files from Nick Murray