By CANDICE CHOI, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks Corp. already conquered the coffee market. Now it wants to mix it up with fresh juices.
The Seattle-based company on Friday will announce the opening of three more Evolution Fresh Inc. juice stores, in addition to the one it opened earlier this year. Starbucks is also expanding distribution of ready-to-drink bottles of Evolution juice in supermarkets and other stores to capitalize on the rapidly growing market for premium juices.
The move is just Starbucks' latest push to move beyond its cafes at a time when the company is facing growing competition from fast food chains that serve specialty coffees.
The ready-to-serve premium juice market has been a bright spot in the broader U.S. beverage market. Volume of premium juices was up 25 percent in the second quarter, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest, with brands such as Bolthouse, Naked and Odwalla seeing significant gains.
"It's clearly part of the American lifestyle at this point," said Arthur Rubinfeld, president of global development for Starbucks and Evolution Fresh retail.
Starbucks purchased the Evolution Fresh brand late last year for $30 million. The California-based company uses fresh fruits and a process called high-pressure pasteurization to make the juice without heating it. Starbucks says that gives Evolution juices an advantage over competitors, since more of the nutrients are preserved.
The first Evolution store opened in March in Bellevue, Wash. and also sells food such as wraps, salads and vegetarian and vegan offerings. Another store will open Friday in downtown Seattle. A second Seattle location and a San Francisco location will open this fall.
Around the same time, Starbucks also plans to open its first Tazo tea shop, which will offer more than 80 varieties of tea drinks, as well as packaged chocolates, infused sugars and honeys, near its headquarters in Seattle.
Additionally, the company in June bought a San Francisco-based bakery chain, La Boulange, that will start replacing the baked goods and pastries sold at Starbucks cafes. The company plans to make the bakery more of a national chain in the years ahead.
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