More Starbucks vegan options are coming. CEO Kevin Johnson says the global coffee chain will be “leaning into” creating more plant-based beverage options as consumers continue to seek out vegan food and drinks.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Johnson said consumer tastes for once-popular drinks like Frappucinos have begun to wane and it’s instead looking to launch plant-based cold brew protein drinks this summer along with lower-sugar and lower-calorie drink items.
Vegan protein is a hot category; consumers are moving away from protein products like whey or milk just like they’re moving away from traditional dairy. While nondairy milk sales continue to skyrocket, dairy sales are on a steady decline.
Last month Starbucks’ founder Howard Schultz told the global food innovation summit, Seeds and Chips, in Milan, that the vegan market potential is “huge” for the chain that has been historically slow to add vegan items to its menus despite the demand from consumers.
In March, Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’ COO, also said the market for vegan food was significant and that the company was working on launching more plant-based food and drinks. She told Starbucks shareholders at its annual shareholder meeting that the biggest request the chain gets is for additional vegan items.
“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 coffee chain, which is still shaking off the backlash caused by the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia store that led to the chain shutting down its stores for sensitivity and bias training, says it’s pulling back new store launches in urban areas where coffee chains are abundant. Johnson said the chain will focus on less established suburban areas as well as improving its food offerings, which he says will include lunch salads and sandwiches.
Starbucks says it will also add more teas to its menu and plans on “capitalizing on health and wellness trends” Bloomberg notes.
The chain has recently added a number of new vegan products, including hot drinks, such as the Nutella-style Macchiato, and lunch options, such as the BBQ Jackfruit Wrap. It also recently added a vegan macadamia cookie to its bakery offerings.