Starbucks launches UK food drive to extend its reach beyond coffee

Starbucks is pushing its largest ever investment in food in the UK through a flurry of new products and revamped packaging in an attempt to extend its reach beyond coffee and take a larger bite out of the fast-food market.

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Starbucks is adding Duffins – a hybrid of a donut and muffin – to its new food range.

The coffee chain will introduce a selection of baked goods for its breakfast range alongside sandwiches, soups, salads and Duffins – a hybrid of a donut and muffin – nationwide from today (3 October). Refreshed packaging and menu designs will support the move with the retailer highlighting the “artisan nature” of the products.

In turn, this is being backed by an advertising campaign to promote the breakfast lineup throughout October. The retailer has attempted to diversify its food offering for the last two years, but they have been overshadowed somewhat by continued innovations around its coffee such as the Origin Espresso launched earlier this year.

Julie Prebble, category manager at Starbucks UK, says: ”The team has worked hard to perfect existing recipes, as well as create new innovative products such as the Duffin. We know from our trials and customer insights, that this new food range will be a great success, complimenting the quality drinks we handcraft in our stores every day.”

Starbucks, which recently revealed UK sales in its third quarter were higher than that in the same quarter of 2012, is hoping the move will strengthen its efforts to take on rivals such as Pret a Manger, Eat and Itsu as it looks to offset intense competition from the likes of McDonald’s, Costa and KFC for coffee sales in the region.

Industry analysts predict a more concerted push for food could provide a platform for growth through innovation and help ensure the UK remains one of Starbucks’ top markets outside of the Americas.

Mary Waireri, senior research executive at River Research, says the brand will need to be wary of marketing the food proposition to customers increasingly concerned and educated about the provenance and sustainability of goods.

She adds: “As well as expecting a variety of culinary influences and fresh ingredients, consumers are also interested in provenance, food miles, organic ranges and other ethical issues. Dietary concerns are also increasingly prominent. Compared to competitors such as M&S Food, Itsu and Pret, Starbucks’ food messaging is not yet as developed.

“Also, the new La Boulange Menu [,the baked goods range Starbucks began rolling out to its US outlets earlier this year] appears to place the brand’s food offer more firmly in the ‘treat’ occasion, which raises questions as to whether it will meet the needs of a more cosmopolitan, health-conscious UK consumer.”

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