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Starbucks has introduced its first line of instant coffees, the Starbucks VIA Ready Brew. The natural roasted coffee is available in two flavors, Italian Roast and Columbia.
Starbucks noted, "[A]t this time, VIA is not available in supermarkets," adding, however, that "later this calendar year, we intend to offer Starbucks VIA Ready Brew in other markets around the globe, online and in grocery or other retailers."
The company will roll out the product starting in Seattle and Illinois, with an expected national distribution by fall 2009.
Instant coffee represents 40 percent of all coffee sales, with a global market estimated at $17 billion. In the United States, instant coffee is a $700 million market.
"We have worked for nearly 20 years to develop an instant coffee that offers customers the quality and taste they expect from fresh-brewed Starbucks coffee, and a unique and convenient way for them to enjoy it," said Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz. "This is a big move for us -- the opportunity to reinvent a category, create new rituals and grow our customer base is substantial.
"The coffee consumption landscape is ripe for disruption," added Schultz. "We're pleased to have the right product at the right time to take advantage of this opportunity, and will look to learn from customers, experiment with other form factors and consider new sources of revenue for other lines of business."
The Ready Brew brand has been in development for 20 years. It is pre-portioned into single-serve packages that will sell as packs of three or a box of 12.