Will a new lunch menu make Starbucks a food giant?
Long lines queue up most mornings at Starbucks across the country as people look to get their caffeine boost and perhaps a breakfast sandwich or pastry to go with it. The same cannot be said of the chain’s locations during lunch hour. Now, Starbucks is looking to change that with a new, expanded menu it has been testing at around 300 stores in the Chicago and Seattle markets.
The new menu, known as Mercato (market, in Italian), includes 18 dishes ranging from an Almond Butter, Strawberries & Jam Sandwich to Za’atar Chicken & Lemon Tahini Salad. The all natural options include both hot and cold dishes made daily and priced between $4.75 and $9.45 in the chain’s Seattle stores. Starbucks, in partnership with Feeding America, donates all unsold items to the community every night.
Sara Trilling, senior vice president of food category and innovation at Starbucks, told USA Today that the chain sees “lunch as the biggest opportunity” to grow its food business going forward.
With half of Starbucks customers entering its locations before 11:00 a.m., a successful rollout of Mercarto could have a significant effect on the chain’s top and bottom line performance. The USA Today article pointed to a lack of a kitchen on premises as one factor that may limit the chain’s ability to attract lunchtime shoppers, although that does not seem to have adversely affected Starbucks’ morning traffic.
The coffee chain has increased its emphasis on food in recent years with both successes and failures.
In 2012, Starbucks acquired La Boulange, a San Francisco Bay-area pastry chain, with the goal of taking it nationwide. By mid-2015, Starbucks announced it would close all 23 La Boulange locations while keeping the company as its primary food provider. Starbucks has posted double-digit year-over-year growth in food sales off of a low base and food now accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s total.
Last year, Starbucks invested in Princi, an Italian bakery with locations in Milan and London. At the time, Starbucks said Princi would become the exclusive food provider in its new Roastery locations in New York (open 2018) and Shanghai with plans to integrate its offerings into all Reserve-only stores this year.
- Mercarto – Starbucks
- Starbucks Launches Mercarot Lunch Menu in Seattle – Starbucks
- Starbucks wants a bite of lunch, while rivals watch and worry – USA Today
- What is Starbucks baking up with its latest investment? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Starbucks finally on the right track with its Mercarto lunch menu? What do you see as the opportunities and challenges facing Starbucks when it comes to food?