Vegan Food is a ‘Huge’ Opportunity, Says Starbucks Founder

Howard Schultz, founder and executive chairman of the international coffee chain, Starbucks, says that the opportunity for vegan food is “huge.”  Schultz made the comments at the global food innovation summit, Seeds and Chips, in Milan.

Danielle Nierenberg, founder and president of Food Tank, was present at the summit. Nierenberg posted on her Twitter account: “‘The opportunity for plant-based foods is huge,’ – Howard Schultz, @Starbucks CEO in Milan speaking at @SEEDSandCHIPS. It shows when we demand changes, the largest companies in the world have to follow!”

Starbucks has recently added a number of new vegan products, including hot drinks, such as a Nutella-style Macchiato, and lunch options, such as the BBQ Jackfruit Wrap. The chain has no intention of slowing down either; in March, Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks COO, revealed there is more to come.

“We have a line that we’d love to share with our customers later this year, so it is in our plans,” Brewer stated at the Starbucks annual shareholder meeting. “We know our customers ask us that repeatedly, and we’ll be responding,” she added.

According to Seeds and Chips, sustainability has always been an issue of importance to Schultz and to Starbucks. “Under Schultz, Starbucks has been an early proponent of corporate social responsibility, and its 2016 Global Social Impact Report outlined the company’s vision for the future with particular emphasis on sustainability, greener retail, and community engagement,” chief content officer for Seeds and Chips, Sharon Cittone, wrote in February.

Schultz is not the first to see the profitable opportunity in sustainability and plant-based food. Recently, some of the world’s most affluent and influential business people have been investing in sustainable, vegan companies. Bill Gates, for example, has invested in both Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats, and Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin group, has invested in Memphis Meats. Branson also stated in February that he believes the future is vegan.

“I think that in the future clean and plant-based meat will become the norm, and in 30 years it is unlikely animals will need to be killed for food anymore,” he wrote in a blog post.

Image Credit: Starbucks