Starbucks Corp. (>> Seabright Holdings Inc) said Tuesday that it's delving deeper in to the U.S. health food industry by taking its Evolution Fresh juice nationwide and stocking a new line of snack bars called Evolution Harvest through a partnership with retailer Whole Foods Market Inc. (>> Whole Foods Market, Inc.).
By the end of the year, Starbucks said it expects Evolution Fresh to be in about 8,000 U.S. cafes and grocery stores.
Starbucks has been working to diversify its traditional coffee business via more packaged products and food. It acquired Evolution Fresh, a fruit juice and smoothie specialist, in November 2011 for $30 million, and has launched other new ventures like a line of energy drinks and its own single-serve coffee and espresso brewer for home use.
Whole Foods will begin stocking 12 Evolution Fresh juices and three Evolution Harvest snack bars from today. The new line of snacks will eventually expand to include trail mixes, freeze-dried fruit and fruit snacks, opening up an opportunity for growth in a popular segment. Starbucks will start selling the Evolution Harvest snacks in its cafes this fall.
Starbucks has been selling PepsiCo.'s Naked Juice and KIND LLC's Kind snack bars in its cafes. Replacing those with its own brands of juices and snacks, a move the company believes will likely be more profitable and boost awareness of the "Evolution" name,
At Whole Foods, Evolution Fresh will compete with Bolthouse Farms juices, owned by Campbell Soup Co. Because Bolthouse Farms' juices are heat pasteurized, they have a longer shelf life, allowing them to be cheaper than fresh-pressed juices though with a loss of some nutritional value. Starbucks says Evolution Fresh juices are cold-pressed using high pressure processing to give them a longer shelf life than regular fresh-pressed juices, but still preserve the nutrients that are lost in traditional pasteurization.
Write to Annie Gasparro at Annie.Gasparro@wsj.com