News Column

Starbucks to Go Greek (Yogurt Parfaits)

July 23, 2013
Starbucks is introducing yogurt parfaits next spring.
Starbucks is introducing yogurt parfaits next spring.

Starbucks is diving into the yogurt business.

The Seattle-based coffee chain has partnered with package-food giant Danone to develop a line of Greek yogurt parfaits that will be rolled out in the coffee chain's U.S. stores next spring.

The parfait, to be known as "Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Danon," will also be distributed through Danone's grocery channels in 2015. The company is looking at international expansion to follow.

"Starbucks is committed to evolving and enhancing our customer experience with innovative and wholesome food offerings," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement. "We ... believe a strategic agreement with Danone, the world leader in fresh dairy products, affords us the perfect opportunity to grow -- and elevate -- the Evolution Fresh brand both in our stores and in CPG channels."

For Starbucks, the move signals an expansion of the Evolution Fresh brand. Acquired for $30 million in 2011, Starbucks described the move at the time as a step into the $50 billion health and wellness category.

Starbucks has since expanded distribution for Evolution Fresh bottled juices, and developed a standalone retail concept, which now has four locations in the Pacific Northwest.

Yogurt has been one of the fastest-growing segments in grocery for many years, but Greek yogurt has lately outpaced the traditional variety in sales growth.

"With a fast-growing but still low penetration of the yogurt category, the U.S. remains a key growth opportunity for Danone," Danone CEO Franck Riboud.

Paris-based Danone has a number of well-known brands in yogurt, like Danon and Activia, waters like Evian, and also does business in baby food and medical supplements.

Starbucks' Schultz has acknowledged a desire to bring compelling, healthy food products to grocery stores. According to the joint statement Tuesday, the companies "will seek additional ways to leverage joint opportunities across other products and markets in the months to come."

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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