Press Clips: Starbucks to Review Policies After Accusations of Racism

Starbucks Will Review Policies After Black Men Arrested in Store

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has apologized and promised the company will reviews its policies after two black men were arrested in one of the company’s Philadelphia stores while waiting for a friend.

In a statement addressed to Starbucks’ “Partners and Customers,” Johnson said he will be speaking to customers, community leaders, and law enforcement in Philadelphia to address the situation, noting that he hopes “to meet personally with the two men who were arrested to offer a face-to-face apology.”

The two men, who have not been identified, were arrested on Thursday when they asked to use the bathroom while waiting for an acquaintance, despite not making a purchase. The manager refused and asked the men to leave. After several refusals, the manager called police at 4:40 p.m. Customers in the store filmed the encounter with police on their phones and posted the footage to social media. Social media users have commented that people sitting in the store without making a purchase is a common occurrence.

The men were released from custody at 12:30 a.m. on Friday.

According to Johnson, Starbucks has already begun an internal investigation of its practices and plans to consult community leaders as it works to adopt best practices.

“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks Mission and Values,” Johnson wrote. “Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome—the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”

CNN reported the store was temporarily closed Monday amid protests in Philadelphia. Protesters were filmed chanting slogans, including “Starbucks coffee is anti-black! A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap!” A Facebook event page for the protest listed several demands, including that the employee who called police be fired, an official apology, that the officers who made the arrests be fired, and that Starbucks create and publicize a new policy that forbids employees from calling police on citizens.

Starbucks told reporters the employee responsible is no longer working at that location, but did not specify whether they had been fired or moved to a new store.

On Tuesday, Johnson met with the two men and apologized personally, the company said. Details of the meeting were not released.

Pepsi Tests Aquafina Water Station

With a sleek, touchscreen design, PepsiCo tested a new Aquafina Water Station during last month’s National Automatic Merchandising Association Show in Las Vegas. The water dispenser allows consumers to purchase still or sparkling water, with flavor options including peach and raspberry lime.

According to The Vending Times, 30 prototypes are currently in the market, including three at Pennsylvania State University. Half of the test machines charge $1.39 to fill a 32 oz. bottle, while the other half dispense for free.

Nestlé Cleared to Pump Michigan Water Despite Public Outrage

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) earlier this month gave Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) the green light to increase the amount of water it pumps from the state’s groundwater from 250 gallons a minute to 400 gallons, a move that was met with backlash from residents and activists, according to local news affiliates.

The water will go toward a $36 million expansion of NWNA’s Ice Mountain bottled water facility in Stanwood, Mich.

During a period of public comment, 81,862 comments were filed by residents, of which only 75 expressed support for approving the permit, according to State Sen. Rebekah Warren.

“Sadly, the DEQ chose to give the green light to a foreign company to continue pumping Michigan water virtually unchecked, hanging a ‘For Sale’ sign on Michigan’s abundant water resources,” said Michigan League of Conservation Voters executive director Lisa Wozniak.

NWNA pays only $200 per year for its permit to pump from Michigan groundwater.

The decision reverses a legal settlement between NWNA and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, which sued the company in 2001 for potential damages to lakes, rivers, and streams caused by its groundwater pumping. The parties settled in 2009, with NWNA agreeing to reduce its siphoning to 218 gallons per minute, down from 400 gallons.

Finlays Opens Rhode Island Facility

British tea and coffee ingredient maker Finlays opened a new research and development facility in Rhode Island this month, according to a press release. The $17 million, 28,000 square foot facility is located in Quonset Business Park and was welcomed in with a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 5.

Finlays had previously acquired R.I.-based coffee milk maker Autocrat. The company also has facilities in Lincoln, R.I. and Florham Park, N.J.

“We continue to strive for excellence through our commitment to delivering innovative ingredients and unique solutions,” said Steve Olyha, CEO of Finlay USA, in a press release. “This new investment will better position us as a global strategic partner, with increased speed to market in delivering unique, high quality, customized food and beverage ingredients.”

Lavazza Turned Down Sales Offers from JAB, Nestlé

Family-owned Italian coffee maker Lavazza will remain as such for the foreseeable future.

The 123-year-old company turned down sales offers from both Nestlé and JAB Holding Company, Lavazza vice president Giuseppe Lavazza told reporters earlier this month. JAB allegedly made an offer on the company “two or three years” ago, according to Reuters, and Nestlé had made an offer prior.

Lavazza’s decision to remain independent comes as both Nestlé and JAB are continuing to expand their coffee portfolios via acquisitions. Since 2012, JAB has been rapidly acquiring coffee makers operating in multiple channels, from cafe chains to CPG brands. Most recently, in January, the company was in headlines for its $18.7 billion acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple Group via a merger with Keurig Green Mountain (which it had acquired in 2016).

In September, Nestlé took a majority stake in third wave coffee roaster Blue Bottle Coffee and in November, it made moves into the CPG cold brew space by acquiring Chameleon for an undisclosed sum.

“Being courted is something that pleases us and we talk with everyone,” Lavazza co-VP Marco Lavazza said. “[But] we are clear in mind we want to be independent.”

Giuseppe Lavazza noted that the company aims to increase its sales to 2.2 billion euros by 2020, hopefully reducing “the risk of being cornered” in the market by fast growing competition.