published Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Starbucks jumping into Greek yogurt craze

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks wants a taste of the Greek yogurt craze.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says it’s teaming up with French food and drink company Danone to sell Greek yogurt. The ready-to-eat parfaits will arrive in its U.S. cafes in the spring of 2014, before rolling out to grocery stores in 2015.

They’ll be called “Evolution Fresh inspired by Dannon” and eventually replace the yogurt cups the chain currently sells in its cafes.

Financial terms of the multiyear deal weren’t disclosed.

Greek yogurt, which is thicker and has a tarter taste, has surged in popularity in recent years and now accounts for more than a third of the market, according to Bernstein Research. Fans like that Greek yogurt tends to have more protein and less sugar than the sweeter, thinner varieties traditionally sold in American supermarkets.

The popularity of brands such as Chobani has prompted makers of traditional supermarket yogurt, such as General Mills’ Yoplait, to scramble to introduce Greek varieties.

Danone makes Dannon, Stonyfield and Activia yogurt in the U.S. It introduced Oikos Greek yogurt in 2011.

Starbucks Corp. and Danone say distribution will eventually expand to targeted markets outside the U.S. The companies did not provide any details on pricing or the products, or say whether it would make other types of yogurt.

The move also builds on Starbucks’ push to improve its food. It has been introducing Evolution Fresh juices and plans to roll out new baked goods in the year ahead. New sandwiches and salads were also recently introduced.

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