Starbucks buys juice company, plans to roll out new concept

Seattle -- Starbucks Corp. announced Thursday plans to reinvent the $1.6 billion premium juice market with its all-cash purchase of San Bernadino, Calif.-based Evolution Fresh for $30 million.

The acquisition, which is part of a strategy to move beyond coffee into the health and wellness segment, gives Starbucks a path to open new health-and-wellness stores in the coming year, it said, although Starbucks has not yet revealed many stores it will open, their location or the name.

Starbucks said the new-concept stores will emphasize Evolution juice and carry wholesome, simple foods. A select number of existing Starbucks stores will be upgraded to carry Evolution products. 

Evolution, started by the founder of Naked juice, makes fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Its products are currently sold at Whole Foods, Safeway, Costco, Trader Joe’s and other select retailers on the West Coast. Starbucks said it plans to broaden distribution of the juice into other supermarkets besides carrying them in Starbucks stores starting next year.

"The acquisition of Evolution Fresh supports our growth strategy to innovate with new products, enter new categories, and expand into new channels of distribution," Jeff Hansberry, president of Channel Development for Starbucks, said in a statement. "Not only are we able to tap into the $1.6 billion super-premium juice market, but the acquisition of Evolution Fresh marks an important milestone for us within the $50 billion health-and-wellness sector."

On a conference call, Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said, "Even though this is a small acquisition in size, it is a significant and strategic decision for the company."

Evolution Fresh will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks.

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