Starbucks, Danone form global Greek yogurt venture

by Keith Nunes
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SEATTLE — The Starbucks Coffee Co. and Paris-based global dairy giant Danone have entered into an agreement to develop a line of Greek yogurt products that will be sold in Starbucks stores and the grocery channel in the United States, and, eventually, globally.

The product line, which will be sold under the brand name Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon, will be ready-to-eat parfait Greek yogurt products. Starbucks will offer the products in participating stores in the spring of 2014, and Danone will start distributing the products to U.S. retailers in 2015. Starbucks said a second phase of distribution is planned to include targeted markets around the world.

“With a fast-growing but still low penetration of the yogurt category, the U.S. remains a key growth opportunity for Danone,” said Frank Riboud, chief executive officer of Danone. “The recent success of the Greek yogurt and our Oikos brand have confirmed the growing appeal of tasty nutritious yogurts for U.S. consumers and established Dannon’s leadership in the market. We believe this attraction will be further enhanced by our access to millions of consumers through distribution in Starbucks stores, as well as through the addition of an exciting new brand, Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon.”

Starbucks acquired Evolution Fresh, which produces a line of cold pressed juices, in 2011 and has been working steadily to roll out the juices nationwide ever since.

 “We are energized by the strong customer response to Evolution Fresh offerings and believe a strategic agreement with Danone, the world leader in fresh dairy products, affords us the perfect opportunity to grow and elevate the Evolution Fresh brand both in our stores and in C.P.G. channels,” said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Starbucks.

Both companies said they will seek additional ways to leverage additional opportunities in the future. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
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