Starbucks had a vegan menu at a store in Seattle, which replaced the usual food options that include animal products.
On an investor call last week, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson revealed that the company used the location as a “test site” in response to growing consumer demand for plant-based food.
According to a transcript shared by Yahoo! Finance, Johnson described this as the “most dominant shift in consumer behavior” across both the food and beverage markets.
“On the beverage side, this is why we’ve introduced all the alternative milks, whether it’s almond milk, soy milk, oat milk. All of that’s important,” he explained.
“Then on the food side, you see what we’ve done with things like the Impossible Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. And you’re seeing more and more plant-based proteins in our food menu,” added Johnson.
“We have one Starbucks store here in the Seattle area that we’ve gone to 100 percent plant-based food menu,” continued Johnson. He told investors that the company uses its R&D lab the Tryer Center to develop products — such as the expanding plant-based menu — then tests those menu items in-store.
In September last year, Starbucks trialed two exclusive flavors of Miyoko’s Creamery’s vegan cheese at a single test location in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle.
In October, the same branch added Starbucks’ first-ever fully plant-based breakfast sandwich to the menu. It’s possible that the Issaquah-based store features the new fully plant-based food menu.
Plant-based food at Starbucks
Issaquah isn’t the only Starbucks to launch plant-based menu items. The company partnered with California’s Impossible Foods to launch a breakfast sandwich that combined vegan meat with animal-derived ingredients across the U.S.
Around the world, Starbucks has added vegan ingredients to the menu. In Hong Kong, Starbucks launched a sandwich and a pastry “puff” that included Impossible vegan meat. While plant-based breakfast sandwiches have launched in the UK.
Starbucks has frequently acknowledged that its expanding plant-based menu is in direct response to consumer demand. The company also highlights its ongoing goal of becoming a sustainable, resource-positive company as a key factor in its increasing use of vegan ingredients.
“If I think about both beverage and food, the number one trend that I would highlight there is just the consumer shift and consumer preferences around plant-based,” said Johnson.
Correction: A previous version of the article reflected that the plant-based food menu was still available at the time of publication. The plant-based menu trial has since ended.