Starbucks Coffee Co. said Wednesday it will debut a new line of caffeinated fruit drinks called Starbucks Refreshers, which will be available in cans and in customizable blends in the chain’s coffeehouse locations.
The plans mark the company’s move into the $8 billion energy drink category.
Company officials revealed the new product, along with a number of other initiatives, at Starbucks’ annual shareholder meeting in Seattle. Those plans include continued expansion of the company’s single-cup business, a program inviting consumers to direct Starbucks’ charitable funding, and plans to build a new manufacturing plant in Georgia.
Starbucks Refreshers, which will be added to the coffeehouse chain’s consumer packaged goods, or CPG, lineup in grocery and retail stores, are a blend of fruit juices with green coffee extract, offering what the company described as a “mild and fresh flavor,” along with naturally occurring caffeine.
The drinks have 60 calories per 12-ounce can and come in Raspberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade and Orange Melon flavors.
The beverages will be available at more than 160,000 U.S. points of distribution by the end of April, the company said.
Cliff Burrows, Starbucks president for the Americas, said customized versions of Refreshers will be tested in units in 16 markets across the United States and Canada, starting in July.
Annie Young-Scrivner, Starbucks global chief marketing officer, said the energy drink category is the fastest growing within CPG channels, at $8 billion in sales, up 16 percent over the previous year.
“The launch of Starbucks Refreshers beverages continues to support our growth strategy to innovate with new products, enter new categories and expand into new channels of distribution,” Young-Scrivner said in a statement.
Last year, Starbucks acquired the Evolution Fresh juice brand, expanding its cold-pressed juice offerings in stores. The company this week launched its first unit of the juice concept with a three-daypart menu of healthful offerings, as well as bottled and tap juices.
Officials at the shareholder meeting also discussed:
• Verismo: The single-cup category has been a growth opportunity for Starbucks, which has been selling K Cup packs in partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters for use in Keurig brewers.
Earlier this month, Starbucks said it had developed its own single-cup machines, known as the Verismo system, for which the chain will start selling pods of espresso and brewed coffee this fall.
• Giving: Starbucks said it will introduce in April a new community card called “Vote.Give.Grow” that will enable registered Starbucks card holders to vote on how the company should allocate $4 million in funding designated for 124 local non-profit organizations across the country.
Throughout the month, customers can cast a vote for one of four organizations in their own community and funding, which comes from the Starbucks Foundation, will be distributed based on the number of votes.
Last year, Starbucks launched the Create Jobs for USA program, a national campaign that raised more than $7 million in donations from guests and the company’s contribution to finance community development financing agencies.
• New manufacturing plants: Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz told the shareholders that the company will invest about $180 million to expand its manufacturing capacity in the United States.
Starbucks is planning to build its fifth manufacturing plant, in Augusta, Ga., as a LEED-certified plant that will produce Starbucks VIA Ready Brew products and ingredients for Frappuccino and other ready-to-drink products. The plant is scheduled to open in January 2014.
The company will also expand an existing facility in South Carolina.