Industry News | March 5, 2010

Starbucks VIA Going Global

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Six months after Starbucks introduced Starbucks VIA Ready Brew in the U.S. and Canada, the company announced it will launch Starbucks VIA throughout company-operated and licensed locations in the U.K. on March 8 and Japan on April 14.

The company continues to expand Starbucks VIA into grocery, mass, and drug accounts in the U.S. and expects distribution to double to 30,000 locations by the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2010.

“Starbucks VIA continues to excite customers and represents a significant opportunity for the company to expand our reach through a broadened coffee portfolio,” says Starbucks chairman, president, and CEO Howard Schultz. “Consumers have quickly adopted Starbucks VIA as their coffee while on the go. Whether it is brewed as a single cup before leaving the house, while traveling, or at the office, customers have found it is a convenient solution.”

The nationwide U.K. launch of Starbucks VIA on March 8, builds on the successful pilot in London and will introduce the U.K.’s 31 million coffee drinkers to instant and microground coffee. This launch comes on the heels of a successful local-market trial conducted in London; recognition in a survey by Allegra Strategies, which voted Starbucks VIA as the “Most Innovative New Product” in 2009; and the availability of Starbucks VIA on all easyJet routes in early 2010.

Starbucks Coffee Japan met with media, shareholders, and partners (employees) to reveal that Starbucks VIA Ready Brew will be available in all of Japan’s 870 Starbucks stores on April 14 under the name Starbucks VIA Coffee Essence. The introduction of Starbucks VIA Coffee Essence provides Starbucks the opportunity to create a new premium category in the Japanese home-use coffee market.

In its first year, Starbucks VIA has helped Starbucks claim a larger piece of the overall global coffee market. Instant coffee makes up a majority of coffee purchases in many of the international markets where Starbucks has a retail presence, and represents 63 percent of total coffee sold in Japan and more than 80 percent of coffee drunk at home in the U.K. Together, these two markets account for more than $4 billion in instant coffee retail sales annually. Globally, instant coffee represents 40 percent of coffee sales, which translates into an annualized $21 billion and growing market.

On March 9, Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Decaffeinated Italian Roast will be available in Starbucks stores throughout Canada. It was introduced in the U.S. market late last year in response to customer requests. Starbucks VIA is now available through more than 15,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including company-operated and licensed locations, Costco, Target, REI, Omni Hotels & Resorts, and online at Amazon.com, cooking.com, and officedepot.com. Additional channels are planned in the coming year.