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Starbucks, Danone To Develop Specialty Yogurt Line

SEATTLE and PARIS—Starbucks Coffee Company and Danone today announced a strategic agreement to create and develop an exclusive line of Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon- branded specialty yogurt products in participating Starbucks stores and in grocery channels. The move will help Danone expand yogurt consumption in the United States, while growing Starbucks health and wellness offerings for its customers under the company’s Evolution Fresh brand.

A new portfolio of Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon-branded ready-to-eat Parfait Greek yogurt products will be co-created by Starbucks and Danone for exclusive distribution in the U.S. Starbucks will offer the products through its stores in Spring 2014, and Danone in grocery channels in 2015. Distribution is planned to be extended to include targeted markets around the world in a second phase that builds upon the success of the U.S. initiative.

The announcement comes nearly one month after PepsiCo, Inc., took a healthier angle in the food product industry by expanding its portfolio with Muller yogurt, a nationwide brand targeting the health-conscious U.S. consumer. In 2012, the company entered into a joint venture with Theo Müller Group, Germany’s largest privately held dairy business,  to bring innovative premium yogurt products to the U.S. market. The joint venture, called Muller Quaker Dairy, opened a new yogurt manufacturing plant in May 2013 in Batavia, N.Y.

“Starbucks is committed to evolving and enhancing our customer experience with innovative and wholesome food offerings. Today’s announcement underscores this commitment through the transformation of our existing yogurt offerings and our multi-year agreement with Danone," said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer. “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 CPG channels."

Commenting on the deal, Danone CEO Franck Riboud, said: “With a fast-growing but still low penetration of the yogurt category, the U.S. remains a key growth opportunity for Danone. The recent success of the Greek segment and our Oikos brand have confirmed the growing appeal of tasty and nutritious yogurts for U.S. consumers and established Dannon’s leadership in the market. We believe this attraction will be further enhanced by our new 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."

In 2009, yogurt claimed the No. 1 spot on the NPD Group's list of top growing snack foods, with more kids ages 2 to 17 years snacking on refrigerated yogurt compared to the previous year. As U.S. consumers learn more about yogurt's health benefits as a "superfood," manufacturers can expect more competition from upcoming brands in the industry.



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