Starbucks Preparing A Major Shift In How It Sells Food

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has always struggled with non-coffee products and hoped to change that with a recent $100 million purchase of a San Francisco bakery chain called La Boulange. The founder of that chain, Pascal Rigo, is now a Starbucks employee, and he is trying to change what Starbucks offers. It's not just a change of menu, but a sharp change in the methods used. Breads will now be frozen as soon as they are removed from ovens, a key strategy to making a major reduction is how many preservatives are used. That means that all Starbucks will be installing industrial-size freezers and will then use sandwich ovens to bring them to life. Another major factor in Rigo's overhaul is having a system nimble enough to make changes quickly. There will be just 45 days from idea to market, for example, if La Boulange decides to put more lemon in the lemon loaf. That fast reaction time is possible in part because La Boulange is finding local sources for ingredients. In some cases, that means flavor variations rather than the uniformity that most fast-food companies aspire to. The apples in Starbucks' caramelized apple cake, for example, will come from Washington for cafes in the Western U.S. and from Michigan in the East. Chocolate croissants will have Colombian chocolate in the West and African chocolate in the East. "It's going to be fun," Rigo said. "We could have key lime in Florida and beignets in Louisiana. The idea is things are changing all the time." Story