Starbucks has responded to demands to eliminate upcharges on vegan milk.
International animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which purchased one $88.68 share of Starbucks stock last December, asked about removing the upcharge during the annual shareholders’ meeting. Currently, customers have to pay extra to add dairy-free milk to their coffee, but dairy is no additional charge.
During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, PETA said Starbucks has already acknowledged the link between dairy products and carbon dioxide emissions.
“As you know, alternative milk costs more than dairy,” Roz Brewer, Starbucks’ chief operating officer, responded. “While there’s no single factor in pricing decisions we expect costs to come down as the supply chain for plant-based options matures. And as the costs come down, we can pass this onto our customers.”
Companies Drop Vegan Milk Upcharge
Last month, bakery-café chain Panera Bread revealed it would no longer charge extra for plant-based milk.
Customers can now order plant-based milk in their coffees at no additional cost at more than 2,000 Panera locations across the U.S. and Canada.
Earlier this year, coffee chain Pret A Manger said it had also stopped charging consumers extra for vegan milk. Costa Coffee, Tim Hortons, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters have also axed dairy-free surcharges.
Dairy’s Impact On The Planet
Animal agriculture emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cows raised for dairy and beef are responsible for about 65 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.
Earlier this year, a third-party environmental assessment found dairy products are the main cause of Starbucks’ carbon dioxide emissions. Research indicates the coffee chain emitted 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2018 alone.
Starbucks has previously stated it plans on expanding its plant-based options as part of its new sustainability commitment.
The chain’s CEO Kevin Johnson told Bloomberg “alternative milks will be a big part of the solution. The consumer-demand curve is already shifting.”
Starbucks currently charges up to 80 cents more for drinks made with almond, soy, or coconut milk as replacements to dairy milk.