Starbucks’s Old Pastry Favorites Are Back in the Oven
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) customers are not fans of change, and that’s why they’ve called on the world’s largest coffee chain to bring back its old bakery items. Like a good vendor, Starbucks is there, listening to its coffee drinkers’ complaints, and that’s why the Seattle-based company is restructuring its food menu in order to bring back old favorites like slices of banana, pumpkin, and iced-lemon loaf cake in its U.S. stores. Thanks to customers taking to popular review sites like Yelp (NYSE:YELP) and CitySearch, urging the chain to bring back the old goods, their voices have been heard, and change is a-comin’.
According to Bloomberg, Starbucks bought gourmet-baking company La Boulange in 2012, and since then has added fancier pastries to U.S. locations as part of that acquisition. While coffee cake and morning buns no longer frequent the menu, almond croissants, apple fritters, and blueberry oat bars now do. But many American palates are not that high maintenance, or customers just prefer what they’ve grown up drinking coffee alongside, because enough of them have shown such a disdain for the new menu that the coffee giant is actually bringing back old items. Troy Alstead, Starbucks’s chief operating officer, said to Bloomberg: “We’ve got a few products that we are going to bring back from the old menu. Some customers missed a few things.”
Though old favorites are now making their way back, Bloomberg reports that Starbucks is still minding its La Boulange partnership by working with current suppliers and La Boulange recipes to come up with food that more closely resembles its previous fare. Company executives like Alstead are hoping that the more traditional pastries will quiet the loud outcry from consumers, but it still is unclear just how similar they will be to their predecessors. One of customers’ main complaints is that the new pastries are too small and pricey; Starbucks isn’t promising that the morning buns and breads will be as large as they once were.
Starbucks executives are therefore listening to its consumers’ pleas as the coffee company attempts to boost its breakfast and food business, and also fend off competition from fast food rivals like McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) and Taco Bell (NYSE:YUM). Both restaurants are now effectively crowding the breakfast food space, and that doesn’t make for a happy Starbucks. According to Bloomberg, at Starbucks’s company-operated stores, 20 percent of sales came from food in its last fiscal year, up from 19 percent the previous two years.
Starbucks is in a state of transition as it pushes its new healthy food and beverage offerings, and that’s why it’ll be interesting to see how it handles the new rollout of gone-but-not-forgotten pastries. Though not a health food chain, Starbucks boasts its marketing of healthy juices, salads, and wraps — even its pastries are now smaller and fewer calories.
Bloomberg reports that La Boulange’s blueberry scone is about 17 percent smaller than the older version and has 70 fewer calories. A banana-pecan walnut loaf cake is about 9 percent smaller than the old banana-walnut bread and has 90 fewer calories. So what does Starbucks do when customers ask it to bring back its bigger serving sizes? Sacrifice its transition into the healthy eating sphere or continue pushing for what it thinks health-conscious eaters really want? That much is still unclear, and we won’t know Starbucks’s plan of attack until it officially brings back old items.
Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see. Still, it isn’t as if Starbucks’s current food menu is failing or even struggling. Despite the complaints, the chain’s regulars still make their way into Starbucks every day to pick up their coffee and morning meal. Alstead maintained in his interview with Bloomberg that most customer feedback on the bakery food has been “significantly positive.”