Starbucks to launch instant coffee brand

Starbucks is launching an instant coffee brand in the US next month in its latest bid to woo price-conscious customers.

The brand, Via, is due be unveiled in New York “and other cities” next week. It is not yet clear whether the company has plans to launch the product outside of the US.

Starbucks has been hit hard by the global downturn. It announced last November a 97% fall in worldwide profits in the fourth quarter to just $5m (£3.32m).

The chain also revealed it had seen a drop in the numbers of customers visiting its 500 cafés in the UK. A month earlier it announced it was shifting its marketing focus to emphasise its ethical and fairtrade credentials, which it promoted via full page press ads.

It additionally offered a free coffee to every Guardian reader after signing a 12 month exclusive distribution deal with the broadsheet, replacing a previous deal with News International’s The Times.

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