Making good on its promise to deliver more plant-based and vegan options to its customers, Starbucks announced today the launch of new line of vegan cold-brew coffee smoothies featuring plant-based rice and pea protein, almond butter, dates, and raw chocolate (cacao).
“Plant-based beverages, plant-based proteins are a choice that many consumers are gravitating toward,” CEO Kevin Johnson told investors in June.
Earlier this year the company’s COO Rosalind Brewer hinted at the company’s forthcoming shift, saying at the annual shareholders meeting that more vegan and dairy-free options top the list of requests the company receives from its customers. “We have a line that we’d love to share with our customers later this year, so it is in our plans,” she said. “We know our customers ask us that repeatedly, and we’ll be responding.”
The new Protein Blended Cold Brews contain 9-12 grams of plant-based protein and the drinks are sweetened with what the company calls a “Banana Date Fruit Blend”, a clear attempt to reduce its added sugar content. Earlier this summer the chain said it was moving away from its sugar-heavy drinks like the iconic Frappucino as consumers are seeking healthier drink choices that contain less sugar.
Starbucks, like the fast-food and fast-casual restaurant market, is eager to secure the fickle millennial shopper, known for a propensity toward brands like Whole Foods where health-conscious products and transparent businesses are shopping cart favorites. And now, as Gen Z are heading off to university, businesses are becoming even more committed to vegan options than they were for Millennials. Vegan meat companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are being embraced by leading restaurant chains such as White Castle, Bareburger, TGI Fridays, and the Cheesecake Factory.
Starbucks says it will also add more teas to its menu and plans on pivoting more toward the popular wellness trends a la Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop and LA’s Moon Juice.
The chain also recently added overnight vegan oats, lentil salads, a BBQ jackfruit wrap, and not to take indulgent treats entirely off the menu, it also added a Nutella-style Macchiato, and a vegan macadamia cookie to its bakery offerings.
Reducing plastic waste has also become a priority for Starbucks. Last month the company said it would be phasing out and replacing plastic straws to help reduce ocean plastic pollution.