US: Starbucks enters energy drink category with Refreshers
The Starbucks siren is about to butt heads with the Red Bull. Just as it opened its first Evolution fruit juice store, the world’s largest coffee chain announced at its annual meeting in Seattle this week that it’s about to dip into the $8-billion energy drink category.
In April Starbucks will roll out a new line of “natural” energy drinks, Starbucks Refreshers, to be sold at grocers, convenience stores and Starbucks stores.
The fruity, carbonated drink that’s high in antioxidants uses unroasted, green coffee extract for the energy boost — but has no coffee taste. The beverage, with flavours ranging from Raspberry Pomegranate to Strawberry Lemonade, will sell for $1.99 for a 12-ounce, 60-calorie can.
“Starbucks is firing on all cylinders,” CEO Howard Schultz told 2 000 shareholders. “We are now creating lots of Starbucks products to live outside of our stores.”
The Starbucks new product machine is in overdrive. Energy drinks are the fastest-growing niche in the beverage business, up 16% over the past year, says John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest. “This is a very innovative product,” Sicher says. “There is huge consumer interest in energy drinks.”
Never mind that some nutritionists have knocked energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar for their caffeine and calories.
Each Refreshers has 40 to 55 milligrams of caffeine — two-thirds the caffeine of a shot of espresso and one-third that of an 8-ounce coffee.
April will also be a big launch month for Red Bull when it debuts Red Bull Total Zero, with no carbs, sugar or calories.
By late April, Starbucks Refreshers will be sold at 160 000 grocers. By July, made-to-order versions will be sold at Starbucks stores.
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