Already scheduled to open up its first coffee shop in Italy, Starbucks has bold ambitions for this year that also include bringing its own branded tea line to China, as well as the UK, France and Germany.
Bloomberg Business reports that the American coffee giant will begin introducing its Teavana products to China by September. While, globally, tea sales amount to more than $100 billion and Starbucks’ tea sales rose 17% to nearly $1 billion since last year, bringing Teavana to China is a risky move.
China has an ancient relationship with the beverage with legends claiming the first brew happened in 2737 B.C. Recently, archaeologists dug up the oldest evidence of its use in the tomb of a Han emperor. In the present day, China is the world’s greatest consumer of tea. You can even get tea-flavored toothpaste!
Still, Starbucks already has some business acumen in China, having dealt with expired meat scandals and push-back against Western food companies.
The 45-year-old company hopes to eventually have more outlets in China than in the US. Chief operating officer, Kevin Johnson, explains his faith in Teavana here:
“It’s very complementary to our coffee business. With Teavana — similar to what we’ve done with coffee — we’ve established a very premium brand.”
Starbucks will face plenty of local competition in the form of home-grown drinks like bubble milk tea as well as herbal offerings from outlets like KFC, China’s most popular foreign brand.
By Matthew Patel
[Image via Flickr]