Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday that it will begin posting calorie information at all of its company-operated and licensed U.S. units starting June 25.

The new menu boards with calorie counts will be available at more than 11,000 U.S. locations.

“What we’ve learned from [customers] is that they like to have access to nutritionals and calorie counts, just as an FYI, even if they’re coming in just for an iced coffee or an indulgent beverage,” said Holly Hart Shafer, a spokeswoman for Starbucks. “They want to know what they’re consuming.”

The cost of the new menu boards won’t be much of an issue for Starbucks, Shafer said, because the company already switches out menu boards seasonally. The June menu board change coincides with an already-planned seasonal menu switch, she noted, adding, “It’s not a huge undertaking.”

All of the beverage calorie counts will be based on the beverages’ standard recipe, the company said in a statement. All drinks are fully customizable to include different milk, syrup or whipped cream options.

Starbucks already posts calorie counts in some regions of the country, such as New York, California and Washington state, where posting nutritional information is mandated by law.

In addition, Starbucks had already offered in-store brochures and nutritional information on its website, Shafer said. But the goal of putting calorie counts on menu boards is to make the information available right at the point of purchase. “It’s just another way to educate [customers],” she said.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included a federal mandate that chain restaurants post calorie information on menus. However, as the act’s final rules have been delayed, it is still unclear exactly how menu labeling will be regulated in the future.

“We do know that the United States Food and Drug Administration is expected to require chains to do this at some point in time,” Shafer said.

Other chains have also started listing calorie counts on menu boards. McDonald’s USA began listing calorie counts on all menu boards at its more than 14,000 U.S. restaurants and drive thrus in September.

“Menu labeling is yet another step to extend our commitment to wellness, ensuring our customers and partners [employees] have the information they need to make informed decisions,” said Mary Wagner, senior vice president of Global Research & Development at Starbucks in a statement.

Seattle-based Starbucks has more than 18,000 locations systemwide.

Contact Erin Dostal at erin.dostal@penton.com.
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