Press Clips: Starbucks CEO Scales Back Schultz’s Expansion Plans

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson Reins In Predecessor’s Ambitions

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is scaling back founder and former CEO Howard Schultz’s plans for luxury coffee shops, according to The Wall Street Journal. Schultz’s growth strategy included 1,000 Starbucks Reserve cafes selling premium coffee and artisanal bakery items, as well as 30 more locations of its Starbucks Roastery, experience-oriented stores aimed at increasing traffic and improving declining sales. Four Roasteries have opened so far, with two under construction, while only one Reserve cafe has opened in the company’s Seattle headquarters.

Schultz stepped down as CEO in April 2017 to serve as Chairman and oversee the Roastery project, and left the company last June after 36 years. In curbing Schultz’s plans, Johnson’s intention is to “bring more financial discipline to the business and return more cash to shareholders,” according to the Journal. Johnson’s goals include improving customer service, expanding stores’ beverage offerings and expanding delivery service to a quarter of Starbucks’ U.S. locations.

Despite Johnson scaling back his expansion plans, Schultz told the Journal, “The company is in great hands with Kevin. Kevin and I speak often and he knows he has my complete support.”

The Journal reports that Starbucks showed sales progress in Q4 with shares rising 15 percent last year.

Fatigued NBA Players Turn to Coffee for Pre-Game Energy

On game day, Todd Forcier, Portland Trail Blazers sports performance specialist, has a crucial task: brew coffee for the players. ESPN recently reported that The Blazers, the most travelled team in the NBA with 542,383 miles travelled since the 2008-2009 season, has turned to coffee for a much-needed jolt of energy.

Former Portland center Chris Kaman picked up the habit when playing for the Lakers, as the team’s then-head strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco travelled with equipment to brew his own coffee on the road. When Kaman joined the Blazers in 2014, he passed on the tradition. Since then, the rest of the team has welcomed coffee as an alternative to sugary energy drinks, with players such as Meyers Leonard, Mo Harkless and Damien Lillard embracing the drink after overcoming initial distaste for the flavor or since-debunked fears that it caused dehydration.

“The first time I [tried coffee], I just felt sharp,” said Lillard. “I remember walking out there for warm-ups, and I was sweating because the coffee made me hot. I just felt focused. My mind just felt locked in. I had no idea that coffee had that effect.”

While coffee might provide a surge of on-court energy for players, ESPN reported, it also stays in the system for an average of five to six hours and could potentially hinder players from getting much-needed post-game sleep.

Kid’s Juice Startups Hope to Unlock Tough Market

An article published in Bloomberg earlier this month noted a struggle in the children’s juice box market as sugar concerns cause juice sales to decline.

According to Bloomberg, a 2015 study by the American Journal of Public Health found that children are not drinking enough water, a problem many brands have attempted to solve despite kids’ penchant for sugary beverages. Bloomberg states that over 75 percent of kid’s juice start-ups pushed their low sugar offerings in 2018, though this did not lead to an increase in sales. Even longtime category leader Capri Sun has experienced three consecutive years of market decline despite launching products with no added sugar.

Meanwhile, a new generation of brands like Rethink, Hint and Hello Beverages are attempting to find solutions with zero-calorie, sugar-free kids beverages. The article cites Wat-aah, which launched in 2008, as a “cautionary tale” for these brands, as its early success with a buzz-generating campaign to “make water cool” fizzled out quickly.

Honest Kids, launched in 2007 as an offshoot of Honest Tea and acquired by Coca-Cola in 2011, is a rare success story, with the brand’s low sugar juice boxes finding traction at fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Subway. Rethink, the zero-calorie beverage with flavoring from “organic essences,” is following in Honest’s path as a beverage originally aimed at adults.

Swiss Company Using Carbon Dioxide for Bubbly Drinks

According to Business Insider, a European company claims to have found a fix for increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels: converting it into carbonated drinks. Zurich-based Climeworks worked with Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland to create such technology for its mineral water brand Valser, which will begin producing product made using the carbon capturing process in March.

During the process, carbon dioxide from air drawn into the plant binds to special filters, which are then heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the filters to release the gas and allowing it to be to collected and sold. The entire process ends with air free of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Climeworks states that each filter can be used thousands of times.

Louise Charles, the communications manager at Climeworks, told Business Insider the process currently costs about $600 per ton, though the company aims to reduce the cost to $100 per ton in the next few years. He added that though the Coca-Cola partnership is limited to Switzerland, the technology could one day be used internationally, and that the company’s goal is to “capture 1 percent of the world’s emissions by 2025.”

Recess Taps into Millennial Market

CBD-infused sparkling water brand Recess captures the “ease, comfort and pleasure” that millennials crave, according to The New York Times. Recess’ “Calm Cool Collected” mantra has drawn in the millennial market, as the NYT notes that the relaxed aesthetic appeals to a generation plagued by economic instability and job insecurity and that has been driving health and wellness movement.

The brand’s social media presence has been a major tool in appealing to milennials. The pastel color palette of the brand’s Instagram feed appeals to a sense of nostalgia (the brand’s Instagram account biography states “we created an antidote to modern times”) while surrealist imagery and nanoinfluencers modelling the products are also used to catch consumers’ eyes. Recess’ efforts to attract 20- and 30-something consumers appears to be effective, the article claims, creating a “branded unit of identity” that appears to tap into everything that millennials are looking for in a non-alcoholic beverage.

Study Shows No Evidence That Non-Sugar Sweeteners Aid Weight Loss

A review published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) states that there is no evidence that non-sugar sweeteners (NSSs) help weight loss or improve health, Nutrition Insight reported.

In the study, researchers analyzed “56 studies comparing no intake or lower intake of NSSs with higher intake in healthy adults and children.” Most outcomes did not show a significant effect on health with regard to body weight, diabetes or glycemic control, appetite, blood pressure and bladder or lower urinary tract cancer risk, Nutrition Insight noted.

However, studies analyzed by researchers had small sample sizes and short durations and only examined the effects of individual sweeteners, while many food and beverage products contain several types of NSSs. Dr. Fred Brouns of Maastricht University’s Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, told Nutrition Insight choosing NSSs over sucrose has benefits, including being less detrimental to dental health and metabolism and containing fewer calories, though he noted the lack of long-term research should be addressed.

In response, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) claimed that the BMJ study omitted long-term studies that demonstrated the positive effect of NSSs on body mass index. “By excluding such studies, the outcomes of the review and meta-analysis might well have been affected,” the ISA told Nutrition Insight.