LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Coffee shop chain Starbucks is hoping its customers are craving a little whole grain with their low-fat lattes.
The company that hooked Americans on fancy espresso drinks plans to revive its flagging U.S. business with help from a range of new healthy breakfast offerings -- including oatmeal, multigrain rolls, energy bars, protein plates and apple bran muffins.
The move is part of a larger effort to take Seattle-based Starbucks' food in a new direction. It's a big move for the company that has a loyal following of latte and specialty coffee fans -- despite persistent complaints about its food.
Critics have been vocal about Starbucks specialties like the 510-calorie, 16-ounce Grande Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Creme or its innocent-looking Cranberry Orange Scone that packs the same punch as McDonald's 450-calorie Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
The company has taken calories out of many of its drinks by simply switching to 2 percent milk from whole milk. It has added fresh fruit, healthier lunch items and a new line of fruit smoothies. Artificial trans fats have been eliminated and calories and fats have been whittled from baked goods.
Katie Thomson, Starbucks' senior nutritionist, recently spoke with Reuters about the company's ever-changing menu.
Q: What is Starbucks' philosophy on nutrition and how has it evolved during the company's history?
A: "It is really about listening to what our customers have been asking for and adjusting our portfolio according to their needs. In the past, it's been about customers looking for reduced-fat and low-fat options. Reduced fat coffee cakes became a core part of our line-up because they met that customer need.
"Our customers have been evolving in their health and wellness needs and are now looking for more whole grains, more real fruit, more protein and more fiber, especially for breakfast."
Q: Does that mean customers won't be able to find things like doughnuts and scones in your stores?
A: "We believe indulgent products have a place in everybody's diet. As a dietitian, I fully believe that. You should be able to come in and get your coffee and a doughnut on a day that fits you. We can make those indulgent products high-quality, delicious, and still more moderate in calories and fat. That's the goal. It's a way for our customers to still indulge but to feel better about."
Q: What is the company's stance on posting calorie counts in stores?
A: "We have posted in New York and will do so with all the other cities, counties and states that are under similar regulations. We also provide more detailed information (in stores and online) to help customers make the decision that's right for them.
"We provide what the calories are for a pump of syrup, a dollop of whip cream and give suggestions on how to make the products lower in calories, fat and added sugar -- whatever people are looking for."
6 months ago