Starbucks Continues Food Push With Overhauled Menu Items

Coffee Chain's Largest Rollout to Date Is Backed by Newspaper Campaign

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NEW YORK ( -- Starbucks is unveiling a raft of new products tomorrow that represents the largest food launch in the company's history. The chain is staying with its tactic of long-form newspaper ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today to support this push.


Starbucks ad

"There are few things good enough to go with Starbucks coffee," says the ad, from BBDO, New York. "Luckily we now have them all in our bakery case." Starbucks has readily acknowledged that its food offerings failed to stand up to its premium beverages, and CEO Howard Schultz has made upgrading the chain's eats a top priority.

Starbucks has made sweeping changes to its food offerings in the past year, however, with items such as oatmeal, naturally sweetened baked goods, and smoothies with protein and fiber. Some of those efforts paid speedy dividends. Starbucks' oatmeal, released last spring, became the chain's top-selling food item within a few weeks. But the company vowed that healthful food offerings would proliferate. As of tomorrow, Starbucks will have overhauled 90% of its bakery case.

"We heard time and time again from baristas and customers that they weren't getting a consistent experience," said Starbucks spokeswoman Lisa Passe. She added that this food launch, the company's biggest, is the result of a three-year project to remove artificial flavors, dyes and trans fats. Starbucks has also removed high-fructose corn syrup from its baked goods, a concern consumers have made loud and clear on the chain's virtual suggestion box,

Starbucks is, of course, in the midst of a long and complicated turnaround. Last quarter the chain's same-store sales fell 8% and earnings dropped 77%. Since then, rival McDonald's has launched its massive McCafe push, which is expected to hurt Starbucks in the short term. However, Starbucks' chief marketing officer, Terry Davenport, argued that the exposure will bring new consumers into the coffee category, and Starbucks should be able to snare them when they have more cash to spare.

As part of tomorrow's revamp, Starbucks is also introducing two lower-calorie salads, two egg-white breakfast sandwiches and a strawberry-banana flavor for its Vivanno smoothie platform. But there are also new items for splurges, such as the Indulgent Chocolate Cookie. Ms. Passe said the idea is to have tasty items on the menu but make sure every bite is worth the caloric plunge.

Some bakery-case items are getting pure-and-simple overhauls. For instance, the chain's reduced-fat blueberry coffee cake will be pulled and replaced with a reduced-fat "very berry" version, with blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Starbucks is also keeping banana bread on the menu, but the item in the case will now be about 30% fruit. As part of the changes, Starbucks is also bringing in Kind's whole fruit and nut bars, a substantial break for the upstart brand.

Starbucks has also rolled out new pastry bags to support the new food, which say, "Real food. Simply delicious." The bag also proclaims, "Your food not only tastes better, it is better."

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