Starbucks Corp. is branching out in a new direction with the acquisition of Evolution Fresh Inc., a premium juice brand carried in West Coast supermarkets.
The Seattle-based coffee giant, which is expected to announce on Thursday that it just closed the $30 million all-cash deal, is trying to do with juice what it has done with coffee, by turning a commodity-like product into an experience. To do that, the company plans to open a separate retail concept centered around juice, as well as health foods, next year, a company spokesman says.
The company has not yet decided how many juice bars there will be, where the first ones will open or whether they will carry the Starbucks logo. Starbucks earlier this year debuted a new logo featuring a larger siren figure without the words “Starbucks coffee,” a sign of the company’s ambitions to move beyond its signature coffee shops.
Starbucks also is seeking to become more of a consumer products company, selling more items in grocery stores as a way to boost overall sales. Starbucks says its consumer products business will one day rival its coffee shops, in terms of sales.
Evolution Fresh, started by the founder of Naked Juice, is a line of fresh fruit and vegetable juices made using a process called high pressure pasteurization, in which the juice isn’t heated, thus helping it retain the nutrients and flavors. The company peels, presses and squeezes the produce itself rather than using pureed or powdered fruits and vegetables. The brand, which will not feature the Starbucks logo, is currently carried in Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco and Trader Joe’s stores on the West Coast. Starbucks plans to broaden distribution of the juice into other supermarkets and to begin carrying them in Starbucks stores starting next year.
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