What is Starbucks Thinking?

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Keynote speaker at the Culinology Conference: Starbucks Global VP of Food & Beverage

We're writing this some three weeks after every Starbucks in the country closed down for "retraining," but before the company's annual shareholders meeting this morning where the brass is going to spin the results of the, ahem, "transformational initiatives." [Flash: wire service update says they're buying new espresso machines! Wow!] Still, one disturbing preview emerged at an industry conference here in Seattle last week, the annual meeting of the Research Chefs of America called the Culinology Conference.

These are the Frankenfood people, the ones Michael Pollan is warning us about. On the surface, they're quite human; they appreciate good food themselves and probably feel they're actually contributing to the betterment of humankind. In fact, they're processors, flavor-enhancing middlemen in a conveyor belt that begins with genetically engineered corn and ends up in your already obese gut. And as the keynote speaker for their annual confab, they heard from Denny Marie Post, senior vice president for Global Food & Beverage at Starbucks.

Let's just accept the fact that our homegrown coffee chain even has a senior VP for Global Food & Beverage. Get over it. Our biggest concern is that she was hired away from Burger King, where she held the title of Chief Concept Officer, and her winning concept was obviously huge. On her watch, the biggest successes at BK, menu items that lifted the company out of the financial doldrums, were the 1,000-calorie Quad Stacker and the 1,230-calorie Triple Stacker With Cheese. BK execs knew that there were a lot more Bubbas out there than Jareds.

Now that she's on the Starbucks team, though, Post claims everyone wants to lose weight, and she chides her former BK bosses for being out of touch. Hence the displays of tasteless, low-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber snacks Starbucks has been tempting you to buy with your latte. (Duh, it's not the oatmeal cookie that makes you fat, it's the 700-calorie Frappuccino, my dear.) How can Post swerve from killer burgers to healthy snacks at Starbucks? We can hear her in the job interview: we're getting older, she's telling her board, and we're confronting our own mortality. We want to stay healthy! Vitality trumps vanity.

So here's what we can expect from the new Starbucks marketing campaign on healthy eating: make it easier, make it positive, make it delicious. Not the absence of guilt but the promise of pleasure....like Top Pot Doughnuts. WTF?!

Make it delicious! Music to the ears of industrial chefs. They put down their copies of Food Processing and Food Product Design and gave Post a standing ovation.

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1 Comment

Holy cow thats a cool post.

Top Pot. Total sugar bomb of a donut. I'm shaking after one. And fatter.

I talekd to a very successful burger-prenuer this week. He loves this industry. He had such an interesting comment about Top Pot Donuts: Male! There stores are so 'male' - they have no feminine touch what so ever. And male "seattle guys" with a bit of an edge behind the counter. Yes, there are girls / woman too, but a lot of guys, with a slight attitude, behind the counter.

Feeling pretty good about their association with starbucks perhaps. Great stores but I agree...very...'male-ish'...

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on March 19, 2008 11:30 AM.

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  • jamie: Holy cow thats a cool post. Top Pot. Total sugar read more