Starbucks explores several new initiatives, including energy drinks,… (Amy Sancetta / Associated…)
What is Starbucks Corp. anyway? A chain of cafes or maybe a juicery, a coffee-machine maker or an alcohol-serving bar?
Adding to the identity crisis, the Seatte giant told shareholders Wednesday it would add energy-drink producer to that list.
At its annual shareholders meeting, Starbucks said it will expand into the rapidly expanding energy drink industry with a line of so-called “Refreshers” beverages in flavors such as raspberry pomegranate and orange melon. Made with fruit juice infused with the extract of green, unroasted coffee, the 12-fluid-ounce, 60-calorie drinks are already being sold at some grocery locations.
The $8-billion energy drink market grew 16% last year. New products, such as Red Bull’s Total Zero no-calorie beverage, are constantly flooding shelves along with competitors such as Monster.
During the shareholder meeting, executives also said that Starbucks will be adding more than 140 jobs in a nearly $180-million effort to build a factory and expand an existing one in the South.
The company also released its Global Responsibility Report, which illustrated initiatives that Starbucks said helped triple the amount of in-store recycling and boosted the practice of sustainable coffee sourcing.
And by 2014, Starbucks said China will be the company’s largest market outside the U.S. with more than 1,000 stores.
Starbucks has spent the year trying on several new identities.
This month, the company unveiled its Verismo at-home espresso and latte machine, trying to tap into a nearly $8-billion global market for single-cup coffee makers.
On Wednesday, however, Starbucks said it would also expand its partnership withGreen Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.to make and sell Starbucks-branded Vue coffee packs to use in Green Mountain’s new single-cup Keurig Vue Brewer.
In January, Starbucks said it would begin testing beer and wine in its shops, including a cluster in Southern California. On Monday, the company opened its first Evolution Fresh juice store in Washington state as it attempts to squeeze into the health foods market and the $3.4 billion cold-crafted juice category.
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