Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beverage wars give rise to healthy counter-attack

Fast-food chains are scrambling like frat boys at a kegger to grab more coffee and smoothie servings. So how are the intended victims protecting their cup counts? In one of the great ironies of the business, drink specialists are countering with promises of better fast food.

The Reuters news service carried an exclusive yesterday about Starbucks’ plan to replace its anemic food offerings with a new line-up of better-for-you choices. "Food has been the Achilles' heel of the company,” executive vice president of marketing Michelle Gass told reporter Lisa Baertlein. “That statement will be long buried after we launch this program."   

The new selections will reportedly include salads, breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites, and a variety of baked goods sweetened with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup, which nutrition scolds put in the same category as Communism, puppy kicking and bathroom-grout mold.   

The baked products will also be produced without dyes or artificial flavorings. Preservatives will also be eliminated wherever possible, Starbucks said.   The new array’s tagline will be “Real Food. Simply Delicious,” Gass told Reuters.  

The news came to light a few days after Jamba Juice informed investors that it expects a new menu of “healthy on-the-go” food choices to generate as much as every fifth sales dollar (see below).   Included are grab-and-go wraps, salads and sandwiches.   

The meal-in-a-cup specialist is also encroaching on Starbucks’ turf a bit with new cold teas.   Then again, Starbucks plans to extend its Vivanno smoothies line. 

1 comment:

Ben said...

I remember back before Starbucks got so huge, many of these criteria were met by local bakeries. For example, the Salt Lake City outlets got their pastries from a local bakery - not the relative homogenization of the current pre-frozen and shipped goods sold in stores today.

There is something to be said for consistency, but it is interesting to see the 'waffling' on the food options.