Industry News | September 27, 2005

Starbucks Debuts Ready-To-Drink Coffee in Asia

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In Asia yesterday, Starbucks Coffee Company launched its first ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee beverage outside of North America. Called Starbucks Discoveries, the RTD beverage will initially be offered in two flavors, Seattle (latte) and Milano (espresso), in the refrigerated case of convenience stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area and nationally in select convenience stores in Taiwan on September 28, 2005.

In developing Starbucks Discoveries , Starbucks conducted research and found that Asian consumers perceived chilled cup coffee as the highest quality of all RTD coffee beverages. As a result, Starbucks Discoveries is made fresh and kept refrigerated, with a short, 14-day shelf life, one of the shortest on the market today. Additionally, during consumer research most Starbucks customers in Asia believed that chilled cup coffee was the best way for Starbucks to enter the market outside of their retail stores.

The launch of Starbucks Discoveries represents Starbucks first entry into the chilled cup coffee segment anywhere in the world. The company took more than a year to create a super-premium ready-to-drink coffee designed to appeal to the local taste preferences in Asia, using the same coffee found in all Starbucks retail stores and coffee-based products worldwide.

Starbucks Discoveries Seattle is named after the birthplace of Starbucks; Starbucks Discoveries Milano is named for the Italian city, honoring the development of the first espresso maker. “When I think back to the opening of the first Starbucks stores in Japan in 1996 and Taiwan in 1998, I am still humbled by how consumers in Asia have embraced the Starbucks Experience and integrated Starbucks into their daily lives,” says Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman. “With the introduction of Starbucks Discoveries, consumers can now enjoy a Starbucks coffee beverage in their favorite Starbucks store or when on the go and there are no Starbucks stores nearby.”

Starbucks has a proven track record of creating successful coffee-related products. Through a joint venture with the Pepsi-Cola Company, in 1996 the Company introduced bottled Starbucks Frappuccino(R) coffee drinks and later Starbucks DoubleShot(R) espresso drink. To date, these Starbucks coffee innovations remain the No. 1 products in their respective segments of the ready-to-drink coffee category in the United States. Consumer products, such as these, and the new Starbucks Discoveries, broaden the brand's reach to customers who may not have visited a Starbucks retail store.

“Starbucks Discoveries allows us to bring the Starbucks Experience to our customers wherever they are,” says Gerry Lopez, president, Starbucks Global Consumer Products. “Expanding into this new channel in Asia helps to strengthen the Starbucks brand.”

As announced earlier in May 2005, Starbucks entered into an agreement in Japan with Suntory Ltd., one of the leading Japanese producers and distributors of food and beverages, for the manufacture and distribution of Starbucks Discoveries coffee drink. Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd., which has operated Starbucks stores in Japan since 1996, will provide ongoing consulting support including local brand and marketing expertise for the Japanese market. In Taiwan, Starbucks entered into a distribution agreement with President Starbucks Coffee Taiwan Limited, the Company's joint venture partner in Taiwan, for marketing and distribution of the new product. Uni-President Enterprises Corporation, one of the largest food and beverage companies in the country, will manufacture the product for Taiwan.