To energize sales, Starbucks pushes new food items

Published June 24, 2013 2:10 pm

Eats • Chain seeks to energize sales.
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Starbucks wants coffee fans to think of it as a spot to grab lunch or late afternoon bite — not just a place to get a cup of morning joe.

The Seattle-based coffee chain is looking to increase its sales in the U.S. by making its food a bigger attraction, particularly in the slower afternoon and evening hours.

In April, for example, Starbucks Corp. launched several sandwiches and salads, including options such as a turkey and Havarti sandwich and a veggie and brown rice salad bowl.

Troy Alstead, chief financial officer at Starbucks, said that one out of every three purchases in the U.S. already includes a food item and that edibles account for 19 percent of overall sales. That's up from the low teens "not that many years ago."

And food should account for a greater portion of sales as the company rolls out better pastries from its recently acquired La Boulange bakery, he said.

Alstead acknowledged that Starbucks' offerings haven't always "met expectations." But now he said the company is working to get more regular customers to buy food along with their drinks. Better choices can also attract new customers, he said.

With fast-food chains such as McDonald's and Burger King increasingly offering specialty coffees, Starbucks' focus on food could be a key way for the company to continue pushing up its sales.