The coffee giant, whose innovation strategy seems to be one giant leap of faith, is partnering with the French dairy conglomerate Danone on a new “Evolution Fresh, Inspired by Dannon” line of ready-to-eat Greek yogurt products. Starbucks will start selling the yogurt in its U.S. cafés next spring, and Danone will bring it to grocery stores in 2015.
“With a fast-growing but still low penetration of the yogurt category, the U.S. remains a key growth opportunity for Danone,” Danone chief executive officer Franck Riboud said in a statement.
Sales of Greek yogurt, which has been widely touted in the media as a healthful low-sugar, high-protein alternative to traditional yogurt, increased 2,500% from 2006 to 2011. But the snack recently experienced backfire after news broke that acid whey, a by-product of Greek yogurt production, is harmful to the environment. So where does Greek yogurt fit into Starbucks’s attempts at environmental friendliness?
UPDATE: Starbucks says Dannon will be doing all the manufacturing for the Greek yogurt products, and thus deferred to Dannon spokesperson Michael Neuwirth, who told Fast Company much of the acid whey derived from Dannon’s Greek yogurt production goes into animal feed and fertilizer at farms near the company’s U.S. production locations in Texas, Utah, and Ohio. The majority of the rest is treated in a biodigester, he added.